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Is MARTAN's debut collection a call for one peaceful world religion?

How an eclectic mix of contrasts can form a cohesive whole at MBFWA.

Design duo MARTAN's debut show kicked off the 26th edition of Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek Amsterdam this evening. They showed a hybrid collection where the starting point – a religious space in which every faith and spirituality is welcome – had a positive message about religion in today's every-changing world.

The show begins with a billowing white canvas, which serves perhaps a symbol, a cloak of charity, a covering of love. Wouldn't the world be a better place if there was more peace and unity? Unity was, indeed, one of the core values that curator Peter Leferink set down as a requirement for the forward-looking visions on display during Future Generation. MARTAN, with their fluid, colourful designs, seem to call for a single, peaceful world religion within which anything and everything is possible.

Spiritual spiral

Elements from several different religions have been blended into a single, colourful collage. You can see that the pair borrowed inspiration from iconic visual elements like the religious spiral, the serpent and the binding straps of Jewish tefillin. The spiral is a particularly recurring element in the silhouettes, as asymmetrical pieces are draped around the body, sometimes held together with marbled rubber patches or thick vinyl belts strapped around loose peplums. Neck straps hold bags firmly in place, allowing them to move freely around the hips. Footwear alternates between chunky, rubber-soled shoes to spiral-heeled mules. Fluidity rules the day, which a look at the material choices makes clear: classic materials like silk organza, striped poplin and cashmere-wool blends are contrasted with outlandish high-tech patent leather, transparent Lurex and synthetic rubber, while fluid, interwoven patterns adorn the knitwear.

"Wide trousers with structured tailoring are embellished with flowy silk organza veils on the fronts"

Contrast and fluidity

It's a mixed collection, in terms of colour – a contrasting menu of neon yellow, fuchsia and light blue against camel, navy and black – but also in pattern, material and gender. Feminine pieces were combined with masculine elements and vice versa. And, as we're seeing with many designers, the term deconstructed isn't out of place here. Dissected versions of classic garments like the striped button-down and Prince of Wales check blazer make their way down the catwalk. Wide trousers with structured tailoring are embellished with flowy silk organza veils on the fronts. Complex patterns snaking up the arms create interesting volumes.

The religious elements in the designs, though, are subtle. A pair of trousers, for instance, is adorned with good-luck charms, but it would take quite careful observation to notice what, exactly, was dangling from the fabric. A suggestive message from which the viewer can divine their own meaning often has a greater effect than one which whose meaning is blindingly obvious, after all. Free choice trumps everything.

Marbled prints were interspersed with a stripe motif. © Team Peter Stigter
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Marbled prints were interspersed with a stripe motif. © Team Peter Stigter
Thick, rubber-soled shoes and a detail of the Prince of Wales fabric. © Team Peter Stigter
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Thick, rubber-soled shoes and a detail of the Prince of Wales fabric. © Team Peter Stigter
Religious elements like the straps from Jewish tefillin were woven into the creations, as in this enlarged example. © Team Peter Stigter
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Religious elements like the straps from Jewish tefillin were woven into the creations, as in this enlarged example. © Team Peter Stigter
The colour palette: a contrasting menu of neon yellow, fuchsia and light blue against camel, navy and black. © Team Peter Stigter
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The colour palette: a contrasting menu of neon yellow, fuchsia and light blue against camel, navy and black. © Team Peter Stigter
Clothing was draped around the body using a spiral construction. © Team Peter Stigter
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Clothing was draped around the body using a spiral construction. © Team Peter Stigter
How an eclectic mix of contrasts can come together to form a cohesive whole. © Team Peter Stigter
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How an eclectic mix of contrasts can come together to form a cohesive whole. © Team Peter Stigter
Detail of a patent leather peplum. © Team Peter Stigter
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Detail of a patent leather peplum. © Team Peter Stigter
Rigid material was presented as a single fluid shape. © Team Peter Stigter
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Rigid material was presented as a single fluid shape. © Team Peter Stigter
The standard striped shirt was given a deconstructed treatment. © Team Peter Stigter
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The standard striped shirt was given a deconstructed treatment. © Team Peter Stigter
Women wore masculine pieces and vice versa. © Team Peter Stigter
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Women wore masculine pieces and vice versa. © Team Peter Stigter
A folded square detail, another reference to the Jewish tefillin. © Team Peter Stigter
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A folded square detail, another reference to the Jewish tefillin. © Team Peter Stigter
Contrasting materials were mixed with each other. © Team Peter Stigter
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Contrasting materials were mixed with each other. © Team Peter Stigter
Fluidity reigned supreme. © Team Peter Stigter
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Fluidity reigned supreme. © Team Peter Stigter
A thick belt, worn diagonally, holds a sleeveless blazer in place. © Team Peter Stigter
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A thick belt, worn diagonally, holds a sleeveless blazer in place. © Team Peter Stigter
Patches and amulets as decorative details. © Team Peter Stigter
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Patches and amulets as decorative details. © Team Peter Stigter
Garments were often held together with elements like patches. © Team Peter Stigter
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Garments were often held together with elements like patches. © Team Peter Stigter
Marbled prints. © Team Peter Stigter
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Marbled prints. © Team Peter Stigter
Good-luck charms and other symbols of luck. © Team Peter Stigter
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Good-luck charms and other symbols of luck. © Team Peter Stigter
Classic garments like the camel coat were given their own unique twist. © Team Peter Stigter
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Classic garments like the camel coat were given their own unique twist. © Team Peter Stigter

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