South African golden boy Martelle Ludik is part of the presitigious group of young designers spawned by LISOF, one of South Africa’s most respected fashion schools (Rich Mnisi is also a graduate of LISOF).
Since graduating and setting up his label in 2014, Ludik has made the South Africa Fashion Week his stomping grounds, debuting his premier collection at the 2016 Spring showcase.
Having interned for South African labels like Marianne Fassler, Suzaan Heyns and Roman Handt, Ludik comes with insight on how the design process works. Added to this is his strong aesthetic, influenced strongly by South African street culture (which has veered strongly towards agendered clothing in the last half decade) and a need to conceptualize.
It is futile to approach Ludik’s work from a purely functional view point as he seeks to redefine what constitutes as functional and blur the line between wearable and conceptual. His spring 16 collection blurs this line even further, taking elements from wild westerns, the leather subculture and womenswear.
Ludik experiments with the wild Western, taking the most easily recognizable elements from the trope and skewering them into stylized 21st century versions of themselves. He takes the classic embroidered dress shirt and string tie and lengthens it into a tunic of sorts, turning the contrast panels into an embroidered carapace, sewn onto the shirt. This is the most demure piece in the collection. The rest of the collection test the limits of androgynous dress, There are crushed velvet body suits worn with chap pants, and boxy fringed tunic made of tie-dye. Even the collection’s jackets are fringed and asymmetric.
Ludik also experiments with acceptable nudity, making light work of what parts of his body a man is allowed to show. He puts one of his models in wide leg, opaque chiffon pants that leave little to the imagination and another in a velvet skirt with a thigh high slit. It is a testament to Martelle Ludik’s dexterity that both looks do not immediately conjure the image of men in women’s clothing.
Over all, it might be a lot for an average shopper to take in, but it shows that the label isn’t afraid to court the influencers, and that design is far more important to it than mass market rands.
Photo Credit: safashionweek.co.za