Behind the Scenes
Not many fashion designers are inspired by pieces of legislation but then not many fashion designers are like Mary Martin. In less than five years she has gained the sort of international recognition others would kill for. For her, going viral is a daily occurrence. Her name first came to the world’s attention (via Huff Post and BBC World Service if you please) when she created the Cecil the Lion Dress for Africa Fashion Week London 2015. “When I saw on TV the lion that had been killed I was deeply deeply shocked,” Mary said. She decided to make the dress in black out of mourning for Cecil. “The big fluffy bits along the top are the tulle, the lion’s mane. The back has got the silkiness and fineness of the lion’s body.” Like all her clothes, Mary painstakingly made the dress by hand, ever the perfectionist, working round the clock to meet the catwalk deadline.
Anyway back to that legislation. Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression,” is what inspired the latest collection from Mary Martin London. That, and a certain mixed race princess. She’s showing again at Africa Fashion Week London much to the thrill of her loyal fans and customers (a few well known popstars included). “I live by Article 10 values and I feel that Prince Harry and Meghan are great beacons: they’ve practised their own freedom of expression by breaking down barriers of class and race by showing us love is for everyone!” The collection is dedicated to the new Duchess of Sussex.
Article 10 The Royal Collection is a riot of colour and form and material and decoration and expression and beauty and movement and chutzpah. The detailing is incredible, such craftmanship. An international fusion of British and African influences is apt for the show and for her standing. Mary may be a real laugh but she takes her work super seriously. She’s flown in her favourite models from France and Switzerland to join London’s best. The clock is ticking again. It’s only a couple of days till she shows at Africa Fashion Week London. “The hems aren’t finished yet!” she cries, dashing round the fittings room, whipping up a frenzied buzz of excitement and pizzazz.
“I’m a fashion icon!” laughs the gregarious designer. It’s no joke: she’s just won the Fashion Icon Award at the International Achievers’ Awards in recognition of her dedication to the industry. Self taught, she’s just back from headlining the Mercedes Benz International Fashion Week in Ghana – another roaring success. Somehow in between, no time to be killed, Mary managed to collect an accolade at the Celebrating People of Colour ceremony in Birmingham. With a killer collection nearing completion, human rights legislation has never been so exciting!