Based in the glorious archipelago of Malta, Charles & Ron is the eponymous brand from designer duo Charles Borg and Ron van Maarschalkerweerd. The core of the brand is their constant inspiration from Maltese culture and everything Mediterranean which is exactly what we witnessed firsthand during their Fall collection show during Feeric Fashion Week.
It was as if we stumbled into a fairytale, with the breathtaking Castelul de Lut serving as the backdrop for Charles & Ron’s exquisite collection. Models emerged one by one from wooden doors wearing colorful garments and toting leather accessories created with the highest quality materials by the self-taught designers. We were happy to catch up with the designer duo to learn more about their brand, their inspirations and their insight to the Maltese fashion scene.
What a beautiful show you had at Feeric Fashion Week! Could you share with us about the inspiration behind your colorful Fall collection, « Saints, Love and Mediterranean lights »?
The Fall/Winter 16/17 collection is inspired by ecclesiastical colour schemes and the traditional decorative lights seen on a Maltese Basilica facade during Mediterranean village feasts.
Our signature in-house designed prints take on a more graphic style this Fall/Winter 16/17. One of the prints features the crown of our hometown’s patron saint; Saint Helen. The words Saint and Empress return on some of the prints and also the leather bags. The new bag designs are based on the style that we had the honour to design as a gift to HRH Queen Elizabeth II last year. The style was re-worked and made in the finest Italian leather in Fall/Winter 16/17 colours.
Your creations draw its vision from Malta and the Mediterranean lifestyle. What continues to inspire you about this region?
We are in love with the Mediterranean, Maltese heritage and culture. All this has become an integral part of our design ethic, and we continue to draw inspiration as there is so much to draw from. The architecture, the lights, the colours and so many other aspects.
Can you tell us a bit about the accessories in your collections?
Accessories have become a very important part of our collections. Our handbags are all designed in-house and handcrafted in Malta with the finest Italian leather. Our bags are also lined in suede and this gives them that extra luxurious touch.
How would you describe the fashion scene in Malta?
The fashion scene in Malta has expanded and improved in recent years and it is great to see new designers starting their business. For us it is also satisfying to know that we have helped to encourage these young designers to believe that there is a possibility of having your own fashion business in Malta.
Since you have both a Maltese and Dutch background, do you incorporate both of these cultures into your designs?
Our work reflects more of Maltese culture than Dutch, as we have been based in Malta for many years and this influenced our style. However us being from different regions has given us a balance between the more glamorous Mediterranean style and the more sober Northern European fashion.
As mostly self-taught designers, how was your experience like? What are the most memorable moments during your journey?
We met in Amsterdam back in 1992 and after travelling back and forth for a couple of months Ron decided to move to Malta. Charles had been sewing clothes from a very young age and I encouraged him to take it up as a profession and this was how it all started. We grew into it gradually and always made efforts to learn and improve. After a while we got the opportunity to work on a collection together with a close friend, and this was the first ever show we did. Since then it’s been a very exciting journey and there were many memorable moments. For us the process of growth has always been very organic. We always took small steps at a time, and worked very hard to achieve our goals. The opening of our flagship store in Malta’s capital city Valletta was definitely one of those memorable moments.
In another life, if you both weren’t designers, what would you think you would have become?
I (Ron) think I would still work in fashion one way or the other, I love many other aspects of the Fashion Industry like Styling and Visual Merchandising etc. Charles loves to cook and is very good at it, so he would probably be a chef.
Your garments have been worn by many international celebrities, who would you love to work with in the future?
It is always a pleasure to dress women regardless of who they are or what they do. But these are some interesting women that we think would look great in our clothes: Amal Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz and Anne Hathaway.
When you are both not working on your collection, what is your favorite way to relax/unwind?
We love to spend our free time on Malta’s sister island Gozo. It’s the perfect place to relax!
What can we look forward to from Charles & Ron?
We have just shown our new SS17 collection during NYFW and in October we will have a big show in our hometown in front of the Basilica that inspired the Fall/Winter collection.
What do you hope to see for yourselves in 10 years?
A steady growth for our brand but most importantly to be healthy and happy!
Charles & Ron @ Feeric Fashion Week / Photos by Alexandru Dragos