Charles and Ron Van Maarschalkerweerd Borg are Malta’s foremost celebrity fashion designers. They have dressed A-listers like Lisa Ann Walter, Kev Dias and Tyler Lawrence Gray, and are known for placing Malta’s identity under the spotlight at international shows like New York Fashion Week.
The two designers met 30 years ago in Amsterdam, and tied the know in Malta. I got up close and personal to find out more about this fashion romance.
When and how did you meet?
Ron: 1992, Amsterdam. I was living there as I was in University and Charles was on holiday with friends. We met on a Saturday night at the iconic IT Club .
How did you first notice each other?
Ron: I saw a good-looking Mediterranean boy sitting on the stairs and asked him whether he was okay? He replied that he’d had a bit too much drink, but that he’d be fine .
Charles: I saw a tall handsome Dutch stranger and immediately thought – this is going to be a great night!
Did you have to do long-distance at first, and if so – how did that work?
Charles: It was very hard to be away from each other as we were very much in love. In fact, our long distance didn’t last very long as Ron decided to move to Malta very soon.
Ron: I gave up my studies and my life in Holland as I felt I needed to give this relationship a try, or else I would regret it. I’m very glad I made this bold move back then, as here we are today, still together.
Who popped the question and how?
Our relationship started from the day we met, and for a long time we could not get married in Malta. It was never something that we put too much importance on, as our relationship was strong and we both always felt that we didn’t need marriage to confirm that. Then when the laws changed, we realised that it was something beautiful and that we should get married in a civil ceremony and have a great party to celebrate. So, it was more of a mutual decision than actually someone popping the question.
You are also business partners – how does that affect the relationship?
Our fashion business has been part of our lives from the beginning. Having a common interest has only affected our relationship in a positive way. When you do something you love it becomes part of your life, and we couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Do arguments happen and how do you resolve them?
We don’t really argue, as we both have come to realise over the years that it’s a complete waste of time to argue over silly things. Sometimes we do disagree over certain things related to work but we always listen to each other and find a compromise. In the end it’s only fashion and there’s no need to make a drama over a hem line or a bow here or there. (Ed’s Note: There’s definitely a cheeky grin accompanying this statement.)
Any funny anecdotes from your dating days?
Charles: In our very early days , Ron’s dad invited us to visit him at his work office. I was trying to impress and put on what I thought was a very cool outfit, including a pair of platform shoes. Clumsy as I am, the shoes made me trip and I fell down the wooden office stairs, making quite a lot of noise in the process. All his dad’s colleagues came out to see what was going on, only to find me at the bottom of the stairs. I made a lasting impression, but not quite the way I hoped.