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[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ive years ago, Martina Spetlova was a student studying chemistry in Prague. It may sound far removed from taking up residence in London, and taking on the Central Saint Martins MA, but when you hear more about the designer’s process, and experimentation with fabric, a background in the sciences seems to make more sense. Spetlova works meticulously with juxtaposed textiles, working gossamer satins into hardened leather, and pleating the finished weave. The result is as visually arresting, and on top of that, dynamic, as her recent fashion films. We spoke to Martina before her Spring/ Summer ’14 presentation to found out more about her exploration of new media, and how it supports the collection. Find out more, and check out our exclusive images below.

We’re really excited by the previews we’ve seen of your new collection. What can you tell us about Spring/ Summer ‘14?

I tend to build on each collection from the previous one, and SS14 is no exception, as I find there is always much more to explore and develop from the textiles I’m working on. For a third season [I have been] reworking my woven leather, and satin tape technique I have developed by experimenting in my studio. I am also using double pleated silk organza, which came about from collaborating with a skilled pleater in North London.

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From the fetishist masks we’ve seen on Volt, we’re very curious to hear what your references and inspirations for the season are.

I wanted to make a fashion film without the a model dancing past in the garments, and like the collection itself, the two films focus on the new textures and patterns of the SS14 collection. I made the leather hoods to create striking and provocative imagery for the film, and create two characters, a yin and yang, who would convey the beauty and harshness of my work.
The hoods were inspired by a photo of a vintage Pucci ski mask, and of course were a nod to the Pussy Riot girls.
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Do you work with deep underlying concepts driving the direction of your work?

No real profound concepts, although I spend a good deal of time researching before I start my collections. I tend to let ideas flow and experiment from there. I am always testing and mixing the combinations, and playing with various textures and colours, and the shapes develop from the way the textiles behave.
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You’ve worked on quite a few fashion films already, what triggered your exploration of this medium?

I am actually not a big admirer of fashion films in general, but it’s a great way to promote the collection, and get the concept across when you can’t afford catwalks, etc. I work with my partner on the films looking at how we can make them cool for us. The last two seasons we’ve tried integrating triggers at the film presentation, allowing the models to manipulate sound and imagery so that they control the film.
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You cite experimental filmmaker Maya Deren as one of the big inspirations behind your fashion films, how has she influenced your work? What is it about her that fascinates you so much?

Apart from being an interesting artist to read about, I find the editing of her classic films such as Meshes of the Afternoon very fresh and effective, considering how old they are, and her films have a dreamy, very personal feel that make great inspiration for fashion film.
Plus she was a beautiful bohemian, and independent woman with an entrepreneurial spirit who died way too young (due to her drug habits…). Ed. note. Look after yourself, kids.
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The interactive aspect of your presentations is really intriguing, was it hard to make that happen? What kind of team do you work with to make it a reality?

I’m fascinated by technology, and I am exploring how to combine tech and my presentations together to engage with the audience in interesting ways. I’ve mentioned that I presented my SS14 films in an interactive installation, [and] we set sensors that allowed models to control which of the two films were projected, and viewed by their movements within the space. The looped films then become one uniquely interchangeable, and playable piece as the models ‘VJ’ the footage and sound effects. With interactive shows or films, even the most simple things become problems and difficult to sort out. I work it out with my partner, the video director and the crew at Cities in the Dark who then suggest how the presentation and video can be combined successfully. There is always some compromise especially with zero budget, and working with what little we can do in the short time frame before each fashion week.

How would you advise students wanting to showcase their collections independently?

Look at your work for inspiration, and try to do something different to everybody else!

Lately there’s been a stream of articles on the frustration that’s come to exist around fashion week. Your digital presentation seems a step away from the conventional idea of fashion week, and a step towards a new way of showing your work. Would you say film and online shows are the future of fashion presentations?

It would be great if it was, but the industry is centred in and around Somerset House that week, so it’s hard to get any press attention outside of it. Presentations and fashion films serve a necessary purpose for young designers, but you need to be inside the established system until you get a reputation.

How will you unwind after showcasing your collection?

I try to take a week off before the madness of production and new collection starts again.

www.martinaspetlova.com

Images by Rachel Hardwick

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