Podcast Ep. 4 TOME DESIGNER RAMON MARTIN, FASHION & FEMINISM
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EPISODE 4 FEATURES TOME CO-DESIGNER RAMON MARTIN
TOME is a New York-based fashion label. Designers Ramon Martin & Ryan Lobo are known for collaborating with, and taking inspiration from, female artists. This season they looked to the GUERRILLA GIRLS for a show inspired by the WOMEN'S MARCHES and the TRUMP administration's attacks on Planned Parenthood.
How can high fashion combine the pursuit of gorgeousness with serious messages about diversity and equality? What role does the runway have to play? In this Episode, we discuss fashion activism, sustainability, TOME’s White Shirt Project and winning fans like Amal Clooney, EMMA WATSON and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Getting dressed every morning is a political act. What you wear makes a statement about who you want to be and how you wish to communicate with the world around you. What’s your wardrobe saying?
"We underestimate the power of beauty and humour to help us connect," - Ramon Martin
ARTS & MINDS
THE POLITICAL RUNWAY - FALL '17
It was inevitable that politics would trend at New York fashion week in February. As US Vogue editor Anna Wintour told the Wall Street Journal in the run up to the event, “Designers don’t live in a vacuum; they are not blind to what’s going on.” Women’s rights, and the Trump administration’s views on them, provided inspiration for many of the Autumn ’17 collections.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) doled out badges supporting Planned Parenthood, while the designers from Public School showed “Make New York Great Again” baseball caps. There were enough slogan tees on the runways to start a revolution. The fashion industry has made position clear: “the future is female”.
“Women’s bodies are under attack,” says TOME co-designer Ryan Lobo. “It would be absurd for two men who impact on women’s lives by dressing them to ignore what’s going on with women’s rights right now.”
Headquartered in New York, Lobo and Martin launched their label in 2011, but met 13 years earlier while studying fashion at University of Technology Sydney. Today their loyal customers, or “muses”, include actors Cate Blanchett, Rebecca Hall and Isabella Rossellini and a coterie of It-girls. Their collections have always taken inspiration from female artists, with the lives and work of Louise Bourgeois and Georgia O’ Keeffe providing constant material. This time, it was the turn of Guerrilla Girls, the anonymous feminist art collective that marked its 30th anniversary last year.
“Their particular brand of sardonic political commentary and agitation is so timely,” says Lobo. That sensibility combined with the designers’ experience of attending the Women’s March on Washington last month collided to form their vision for Autumn 2017, which they sum up as “feminist, political fun”. That translated as jackets and dresses spliced with witty trompe l’oeil detailing of the female physique, punk tartans, banana embellishments and “guerrilla fur” alpaca sweaters hand-knitted by a Peruvian women’s collective.
“We hacked the sleeves off some pieces at the last minute,” says Lobo, “there was a sophisticated DIY punk thing going on.”
“Very deliberately though,” adds Martin. “In choosing where to cut the clothing, how we remove or add to it, we are very conscious. The jacket, for instance, that’s cut across the breast line – that’s about ‘My body, my choice’, that’s ‘Free the nipple’.” Models, it goes without saying, were properly diverse, not just in terms of race but age and body shape too.
Asked if fashion should be political, Lobo says, “It’s unavoidable. Whatever you put on your body makes a statement: [whether it’s one] of defiance, apathy or practicality. Getting dressed every morning is a political act.”
OO OO OO, WHO ARE THE GUERRILLA GIRLS?
In 1986, a group of anonymous female artists sent a pink poster made to look like a hand-written letter to a bunch of famous art dealers. It read: "It has come to our attention that your collection, like most, does not contain enough art by women. We know that you feel terrible about this and will rectify the situation immediately, All our love, Guerrilla Girls."
Two years later, their famous poster, The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist, listed (unlucky) 13 "advantages". Yeah, right. Things like, "Working without the pressure of success." And, "Not being stuck in a tenured teaching position."
TOME emblazoned this wry message on the back of a jacket for Fall '17, after approaching the collective, and heaving back from … Frida Khalo and Kathe Kollwitz. Collective members adopt the names of famous female artists as pseudonyms.
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