The Lira Maltija as we’ve never seen it before

Malta’s iconic old currency gets the edgy treatment with Charles & Ron’s new collection.
Designers Charles & Ron with their models after presenting Lm0.4293. Photo: Mark Soler

There are designers who grow complacent with every year of success, sitting on their laurels and producing one safe collection after the other, lapping up the continued adulation.

Then there’s Charles and Ron, never ones to shy away from taking a risk. Their latest collection, Lm0.4293 is inspired by the old Lira Maltija, the name a cheeky reference to the days when the Euro was being introduced and everyone was trying to figure out its value. It’s a theme that I would never have expected to make for a colourful, edgy collection. I mean, the Lira Maltija wasn’t exactly the most stylish of designs.

And yet, given the Charles & Ron treatment it soared, turning into a gorgeous bird of bright plumage that dazzled the audience present for the launch of the collection yesterday at Verdala Palace.

In truth, Charles & Ron are synonymous with basing their collection on a Maltese theme and finding the beauty in it. This has been their signature since 2016, when they launched the Luzzu collection long before other local designers jumped on the bandwagon and started using the Maltese Cross, the luzzu and tiles as part of their designs.

With Lm0.4293, we were treated to a collection that uses the notes of our old currencies as its base. Of note are the sectional designs using purple and yellow blocks, some using very plain fabric that lets the cut speak for itself. Others put the spotlight on the ornate textures, some of the prints replicating those of the old currency itself.

There is some exquisite colour blocking at play. A bright yellow tiered skirt makes a perfect companion for an equally bright and yellow vest top, the asymmetrical waist and a matching hat that (perhaps I’m biased) whispers ‘Katya Saunders’ to me.

Gowns come with full, feathered skirts in a re-invention of the hoop skirt look. A texture that’s replicated in some of the men’s jackets, giving the men the air of a beautiful bird of plumage. The mirroring between the textures and fabrics used on the female models and those on the male blurs the lines between genders, and I can easily see some of the designs showcased by the male models worn by any other gender really. And vice-versa, for those who enjoy a less restrictive approach to fashion.

Each piece in the collection takes a flight of fancy and, with this kind of nostalgic designs the concern is that they may look gorgeous but won’t be wearable. Charles & Ron successfully avoid this trap. All the pieces unveiled in yesterday’s shows are highly wearable – some for more special occasions than others, but that is the nature of fashion.

The bags are a triumph, from the massive, embossed, hold-alls to the statement clutches and the quirky circle bags. I can easily see them becoming iconic. It was also good to see the faces who were synonymous with Charles & Ron’s earliest collections – Romina Camilleri, Claudia Calleja and Diane Stafrace among others – walking the runway alongside the more recent names like Karly Naudi and Sarah Zerafa.

The show closed off with spectacular gowns, some of the pieces spicing up the allure of the classic cinched waist with harness type belts. Together with the contrasting colours and the textured fabrics, this added an edgy vibe to the classic undertones of the collection.

An excellent continuation to Malta’s fashion landscape, riding right on the coattails of Malta Fashion Week.

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