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Charles & Ron fly the flag for Maltese culture

ISblogs - Charles & Ron - New York Runway 6

Charles Borg, half of design duo Charles & Ron, talks exclusively to tappintomalta’s Editor, Isabel Tapp, about how he is flying the flag for Maltese culture and heritage:

IT : Charles, you started the business in 1992, have you always known you wanted to be a designer?

CB : Well,  I started at a very young age; I come from a family of seamstresses, so I guess I picked it up from them; I used to gather fabrics from my aunties and try and create something out of the pieces of fabric; I made trousers, tops and skirts for my cousins; I guess I must have been around 11 years old.

IT : When did you start designing clothes professionally?

CB: When I was 15, I started making clothes for clients on a part time basis.  I met Ron in 1992 and he advised me to quit my job and take it professionally; this is when we started the business together.

 

IT:  Do you and Ron have specific, different roles in the business?

CB: Yes we do; Ron focuses on the design and drawing and organizing the Shows overseas, whilst I am more focused on the technical side of the business; the cutting, managing the studio and making the clothes come to reality.

IT : Do you come up with the ideas for a new Collection together?

CB: Yes we do; we come up with a concept; the majority of the time we are inspired by Maltese crafts and heritage; we take the main points from the inspiration and create a Collection.

IT : Do your Collections always incorporate an element of the Maltese heritage and how is this element regarded both in Malta and abroad?

CB: Yes, for the last couple of years we have been trying to incorporate elements of the Maltese culture into our clothes and this has been very much welcomed both in Malta and abroad.  Our overseas clients love it, as we are telling the story of Malta through the clothes.  For example, when we introduced the Summer Collection featuring the architectural prints of Valletta and we showed it in New York, the audience was curious and they wanted to learn more about the architecture of Valletta.  Our Maltese clients were also intrigued to see how we could take a Maltese story and make it fashionable.

IT : Do you see yourselves being inspired by elements of other cultures?

CB: We may have small Collections inspired by other cultures, however, for the time being,  we are focused on reviving Maltese craft and heritage and translating it into fabric and fashion.

IT : What inspires you?

CB: Lots of things…… Maltese churches, the people we meet, the village Festas, which I love,  the decoration of the streets, the lights, fireworks.  We once developed a Collection inspired by the Maltese village fireworks; lots of things inspire us.  Ron, being Dutch, appreciates the Maltese culture, the feasts, the bands walking through the streets; we get excited and inspired by these elements of Maltese lifestyle.

IT : Who are your favourite designers?

CB : Alexander McQueen and Valentino; however it also depends very much on a specific Collection.

IT:  What are the current trends for Spring/Summer 2015?

CB : Our Spring/Summer 2015 is based on pastels.  We use aqua, mint, baby pink and lots of white.  We used flowing silks as well as more structured natural fibres, like 100% cotton, which is cool and welcoming during the hot Maltese summers.

IT:  What are you working on now?

CB : We are now working on the Winter Collection;   in New York we showed a Preview of the Collection and subsequently we have been invited to Romania in July to show the full Collection, which we are currently working on; and of course, Weddings, as we are now in the full flow of the wedding season in Malta.

IT : What are you offering to the Maltese Wedding market?

CB : We offer a bespoke service both for the bride herself, as well as the mother of the bride and bridesmaids.  We have clients who may have something specific in mind which they cannot find off-the-peg, or we may be asked to design a bridal dress which is a little different from what is available in retail outlets.

 

IT : Is your Bespoke service offered purely on Bridal and what sort of lead time do you need to create these bespoke dresses?

CB:  We offer a Bespoke service for any occasion, particularly eveningwear, whether it is summer party dresses or a specific gala event.   We do need a lead-in of approximately 6 months to create bespoke outfits, particularly over the spring and summer months, which is our busiest period of the year.

IT : What are your thoughts on Maltese street style?

CB :  (with a wry smile) I think Maltese girls need to be more careful of what they are wearing; unfortunately, you see a lot of very young girls, all dressed the same, in fitted, short dresses, irrespective to their size and figures.  This also applies to middle aged women, who do not always acknowledge that they need to dress appropriate to their age; this does not mean that you have to be boring; you can still look good and sexy by covering up and wearing a decent length.  Unfortunately, in Malta this is not always understood. On the other hand we thankfully have many Maltese people that have a lot of style and appreciate original design.

IT :  You have shown your Collections in Italy, Greece, Canada, the Netherlands, and twice at New York Fashion Week, and you have Romania coming up. What’s next?

CB:  This is our third year showing in Romania and after that we have been invited back to New York in September.  We are fortunate enough to have a good client in Colorado, who owns a number of boutiques in a ski resort, and our aim is to build our client base in the States via our Shows in New York.

 

IT : Do you have any plans to open more boutiques in Malta following on from the success of your boutique at the Corinthia Palace Hotel?

CB:  Yes we do; we are working on opening a larger boutique in Malta where we can show the different Collections we are currently working on, which include  Sportswear and Jeanswear Collections.  We are still looking for the right location.

IT:  Charles, if you were to give just one style tip, what would it be?

CB:  Well, that depends on the size you are! (laughing)  No, seriously, a woman must always own a beautiful pair of shoes, a beautiful handbag, a black dress and a white dress. It is very important for a woman to have one or two simple cut, classic dresses in her wardrobe. So, my message is “Keep it Simple”

IT:  And a final word of advice?

CB:  Stick to what suits you; and if you are not sure, do not be afraid to seek advice from professionals!

 

You can contact Charles Borg at the Charles & Ron Boutique, Corinthia Palace Hotel, Attard or via the website :  www.charlesandron.com.


One Comment

  1. Danno says:

    Proud to be Maltese!

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