Although fashion design duo Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin of Tome hail from Sydney, last week was the very first time the pair have shown at Fashion Week Australia. It was somewhat of a home coming for New York based Lobo and Martin.
Late last year we had the very good fortune of catching up with one half of Tome; an energised Ryan Lobo, for a wonderful short and snappy Chat in a Chair. With the heavily anticipated inaugural showing down under, we spoke with Lobo about what drives the creative dream that is Tome.
As a designer who strives to interpret the wondrous complexity of the female form, it is really no wonder that Lobo’s chair of choice is the iconic Eames® Moulded Plywood Lounge Chair, colloquially known as the ‘LCW’. With its compounded curves and exquisite minimalist configuration, it continues to feel contemporary seventy years since its inception. To Lobo, it is “…understated, casual, comfortable confidence”. It is a harmonious coupling – the sincerity of the LCW with the elegance of Lobo’s work – both sharing a sublime understanding of the fundamentals of basic beauty.
Lobo and Martin share a wealth of experience and an infectious passion for fashion, design and art. Recognising each other’s strengths early in their careers whilst studying a Bachelor of Design, Fashion at the University of Technology Sydney they took their time to come together with the knowledge that if they were ever to start a label, it would be together. Martin moved to Europe and the USA to work for Alberta Ferretti, Jean Paul Gaultier and Derek Lam and Lobo worked as a creative consultant, stylist and buyer for prominent Australian brands and magazines. Building their skills independently until the natural sense of time was ripe to come together has resulted in a well-rounded, mature and professional friendship. In 2011, with the world under their belt Tome was born (and remains still) within the world’s most inspiring creative metropolis, New York City.
Tome is not restricted to a place or a time rather, it celebrates the ‘every woman’ who dresses in the infinite wearability – clear cut, essential dressing – of Tome’s classic tailoring, soft silhouettes and seasonal hits of artistically-curated colour.
Lobo & Martin have always found remarkable women, both historical and contemporary, to inspire creative stories. For their recent Cruise/Pre fall 2015 collection shown at Fashion Week Australia, Lobo and Martin revisited their teenage crush on the Sylvia Plath masterpiece ‘The Bell Jar’, touched by the depth of its aching beauty. They rediscovered their fascination by listening to voice recordings of Plath’s own voice reading poetry. The visions materialised with crisp structure and 50s-esque silhouettes in largely black and white with an almost restricted sense of femininity. Pieces that are coloured subvert the order of the tailoring with ensembles that pair the soft bodily tones of flesh pink with berry-stained red, and baby blue with electric blue. Sublime details peek through; arcs of lace, square pleats at the bottom of plunging necklines or a provocative slit to the front of a high necked blouse. All ensembles are bound at the waist or the neck with a suggestive gesture of restraint.
The Tome woman is of her time and of all time. She is a vision of both strength and vulnerability.
Who are your favourite artists and why?
I have always loved formidable female artists and their practice. I learnt very young that women have been written out of the history books (well beyond the art world) and so I guess that spurred my interest in art created by women.
I was always intrigued by Hannah Höch, Fiona Hall, Louise Bourgeois, Shirin Neshat, Yoko Ono and Tracey Moffat to name a few.
Art and literature has always informed you work. How do you go about translating what you are inspired by into a marketable piece of clothing?
We are two men who make clothes for women so we miss out on the ultimate purpose of clothing – to actually wear it! So we don’t fall into fantasy with our clothes we select women as our muse for each collection, a kind of guiding light, and become absorbed in that woman’s world. We read about her life, her art practice, and are often as intrigued by her output as her inner life. We are often as attracted to the strictness of their work ethic as the sobriety of their personal style. It’s a mood as well as something literal. It’s very hard to put into words.
Your favourite works of fiction and non fiction and why?
Ok here goes: The Hungry Caterpillar, The Handmaid’s Tale, The God of Small Things, The House of Mirth, and all of Jeanette Winterson, because she is a literary master!
Non fiction: anything from Germaine Greer because she is a hero and a legend and should be taught and revered in schools!
Where else do you turn for inspiration creatively?
We are inspired by dance, music, costume and other designers!
Until now, you’ve never shown TOME in Australia. Can you tell us a little about living and working in NYC and what it has done for you and for TOME? How does it feel to show back home?
It is the most validating thing to be welcomed home with open arms. In the beginning it was really important for us to translate our laid-back and unfussy Australian aesthetic into a U.S. based brand. To bring our downtown NYC woman home to Sydney is a wonderful contrast to the beginning of the inception of Tome.
Living and working in NYC is a dream come true for so many reasons. It is where our homes are and it allows us access to the world.
What is the greatest lesson you have learnt about dressing women?
Never assume anything about who a woman is and what she wants! EVER!
Tell us about the chair of your choice, the Eames LCW…. What makes it special for you? What does the chair represent for you
It sums up my dream existence…understated, casual, comfortable confidence.