Who: Ritienne Zammit, designer What: her collection, L-omm li Tatna Isimha! Where: her studio on 29, West Street, Valletta
I meet Ritienne on a balmy Monday afternoon in her contrastingly cool studio in Valletta. She welcomes me to the space where the magic takes place, where her clothes become wearable pieces of art, and where the custom-made meets the trademark. We peruse the pieces that had pulsated down the Grandmaster’s Palace makeshift catwalk during fashion week, and all the memories of that special eve come flooding back. As we settle for a chat, my eyes alight on a number of pieces that interest me, and we agree to meet again for some future work. I did snap up two items that I will be able to take with me abroad happily enough.
Here is what we chatted about…
1. What inspired her collection? How does she look for materials?
For those who are not yet familiar with Ritienne’s work, her latest collection draws on a shout to the Maltese identity. She bemoans that the latter is not being guarded and appreciated enough, so through her work she seeks to commemorate the patriots who fought for what we hold dear, our independence, and for what makes us Maltese. Apart from that, her creations are an outpouring of emotion and this filters through in every piece she designs. This explains why she searches for materials carefully and with an eye for detail, opting wherever possible for locally provided fabrics through which and for printers through whom her work can be reflected at its best.
2. What is her typical day as a designer?
Ritienne juggles her daily routine between designing and catering, which she professes she loves equally, though the former is her main passion. A typical day as a designer would involve working at the computer answering emails and coming up with concepts, working with Illustrator and Photoshop. She also spends time editing, making arrangements for orders, and of course designing the clothes for her clients. She is setting up a Lookbook, but in the meantime you can check out her website http://www.ritiennezammit.com/
3. Who are the style icon(s) that have pervaded her imagination and her design?
Her clothes are often described as unconventional, daring, and experimental, which makes sense, as she is attracted to the work of Vivienne Westwood and the late Alexander McQueen.
4. What is/are her favourite item(s) of the latest collection?
She immediately answered that the għonella piece (first picture below, far left) and the bag (third picture below, right) created specifically for this collection are her absolute favourites.
5. How does she define her personal style? What is a clothing item she cannot do without or that we’d see her often in?
Two words. Modern punk. She is into leather jackets, tartan prints, and a mix between edgy and feminine, as attested by her preference for doc martens and skirts respectively. It follows then that she would be most likely be seen in a pencil or a maxi skirt.
6. How does she see herself in 5 years’ time?
Probably working more than now but loving what she does. This would somehow be related to the new concept she is currently working on.
7. The last two questions relate to travel: the most memorable place she has been to? Where would she like to go next?
After some thought, she opined she holds Rome very dear to her heart and interests for its history and the possibility to witness magnificent works of art firsthand, such as the famous Pietà and the Vatican as a repository of history, art, and tradition. If she could, she would travel to Portugal (if in Europe) and/or Mexico (if outside of Europe), for both represent places where cultures, tradition, and ancestry intersect. She is fascinated by the Aztec influences and locations that are rooted in traditions.
As I leave her studio, I wish her luck with her upcoming fashion ventures, and I reiterate how we all look forward to more vibrant collections in the not-so-distant future.
Coming up soon…posts featuring more of Ritienne’s work; for now, find me on Instagram @stefxerri to see some pics of pieces from her collection!