Ed Marler

The East London designer with a penchant for gothic romance, with a first look at his new short film launching alongside his AW16 collection

Made for Fashion pairs leading fashion designers and makeup artists for a candid conversation about creativity, collaboration and catwalks

Fashion designer Ed Marler may be new to the scene, but his audacious, oddly romantic, gothic fairy-tale approach to design has made him a breakout star, a subversive hero reclaiming a fashion world desperate for a fresh perspective. A recent graduate of Central Saint Martins, Marler debuted his first collection at London’s SS15 Fashion East Show, a parade of club kids turned vampires walking the runway to Kyle Minogue, bejewelled, brocaded, richly layered and gender-bending. Unsurprisingly, he wowed, waking up audiences with his provocative, devil-may-care point of view, reminding fashion communities both in London and abroad what it means when designers push the art form to its limits, blurring boundaries, making statements, and, well, having some fun.

Marler officially joined London Fashion Week last season, showing his SS16 ready-to-wear collection in a small Soho courtyard. Influenced by his East London background, his designs, despite their outrageousness, are remarkably for and of the people. It’s glamour deconstructed, transgressive yet aspirational, at once opulent and of the streets. Debuting alongside his AW16 collection, Marler brings his singular aesthetic to a new short film directed by Paulina Otylie Surys; a bizarre and beautiful piece that hearkens to his proclivity for 18th-century influences, while paving the way for what’s to come.

Watch the Ed Marler film here, exclusively on MAC Culture

Can you talk about the process for creating your film? How did it come to life?
The idea of the film itself is a Cinderella-type story of a girl getting ready to go out and using what she has close at hand to transform herself. It’s not so much about the collection; it’s more about telling a story and setting a mood for the future. We used a mix of designs from past seasons to do this. Scarlett O’Hara and Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman were big influences, as well as women’s dress/makeup from the 18th century as Cinderella is usually set around that time.

What about the beauty looks for the film? Which artist did you work with, and what was your shared process?
I worked with Daniel Sallstrom. We used the eye liner from my first show, which is something I try to use in all of my beauty looks, as I think it worked really well. It extends the corner of your eye to give a more supernatural look. You add more makeup around it and it almost appears like it’s part of your actual eye. Daniel also likes to tape the face to pull back the eyebrows. You would usually hide this with the hair, but we decided to treat it as a deformation by covering the tape with pearls.

What inspired this look?
The idea for the makeup generally was 18th century and pretty, but with a slightly alien/supernatural twist. The final beauty look was influenced by the paintings of Pietro Longhi. I like the way that it is all quite pretty, but you have the strange masks, which are stark black. It looks quite odd. In his paintings, the nobility all seem the same with identical masks and identical behaviour; not one noble stands out. On the contrary, the mask was a way to be individualistic. It epitomized Venice in the sense that the mask represents what the city itself exudes, which is independence and originality. It served as symbol that in spite of harsh times Venetian society will persevere.

Your designs embrace a very over-the-top, playful, do-it-yourself approach to glamour. What does the notion of "glamour" mean to you?
It is trying to show that glamour can be for anyone. Going out has always encouraged me to dress up. I get lots of ideas from that. Even if people can’t afford to buy my clothes, there are things they can take away from it.

"I just try to provide some kind of escapism in my work, for myself and for others who want to look at it." - Ed Marler

How do you hope your work influences the fashion world?
I hope it provides a sense of escapism and fantasy. The world is quite a dull place right now, so I think that’s what we need.