gEt TO knOW
ROwEn ROse

A label championing duality, art and heritage

Words by Heather Gwyther 

Astrology fanatics, assemble: if you were to look at the work of Emma Rowen Rose, what star sign would you say she was? Given the level of look-at-me in all her collections, there’s a strong case for her being a Leo but, in actual fact, she’s a Scorpio (sun “plus ascendant”, as she tells me over Zoom). Scorpios, if you don’t know, are famed for being intense, complex and obsessive. The more you learn about her eponymous label, the more this makes perfect sense. 

Then again, there would have been a complexity to Rowen Rose even if she hadn’t been born a Scorpio – she’s half Polish, half Spanish and was raised in Paris. “This multicultural background is very present in my life, in my decisions and in my aesthetic,” she says. “I was born in France which inspired a love for elegance and tradition, but as a person I have a very cold, shy Polish side and then a warmer, more flamboyant side influenced by my Spanish heritage.” Unsurprisingly, this seeps into her work too: “The duality between my Polish and Spanish heritage, mixed with my French aesthetic, is something that inspires me on many levels,” she reveals. “Very often my collections are about the duality of something in people’s art or in people’s personalities – that’s me dealing with my background.”


So, how does this actually present at Rowen Rose itself? “I love tailoring. My specialty is designing pieces that are structured with strong shoulders and a waistline. I think this translates to my colder French and Polish sides,” she says. “Then, I love daring with the colours, the prints and the attitude – this might be a little bit more of the warmer Spanish side,” she continues. “I love staying on the line, being somewhere in which you must find the balance between two concepts. You can’t only describe each of our pieces with one word. You always need to balance it with another one and I think this duality is what I like most about every piece that we do.”

However, it’s important to note that Rowen Rose’s inspirations also extend far beyond the self. “Thank god there were other artists before me, because they inspire me on a daily basis,” she laughs. “My inspirations are very wide: one collection can be inspired by something a bit more obvious for a fashion designer like a movie, but I guess my speciality is poetry,” she tells me. “It's pretty easy to translate a collection from a poem because the ones I love are very visual.”

“I’m HaPPy tO DReSS wHOEVeR DaReS tO weAR mY CLOTHing.”

Indeed, it was one such poem that provided the inspiration for Rowen Rose’s SS22 collection (now at KOIBIRD): “Harmonie du Soir” by Charles Baudelaire. While some might find its description of “the sun drowning in its own congealed blood” too macabre to read let alone create art from, it’s an image that Rowen Rose came back to repeatedly in the design process. Forgoing more standard straight cut-outs in favour of larger-than-average round ones, for example, wasn’t just about "representing a basic image of the sun, but bringing light into the piece,” she states. There’s nothing wrong with imagery of the sun being somewhat obvious, though. After all, easily the most magnificent piece in the collection is the bright yellow hand-embroidered couture dress.

Yet, Rowen Rose’s collections don’t just spring forth out of thin air upon her consuming a single piece of art. “Usually, I start a collection like a journalist starts an article – with research,” she reveals. “I find something that inspires me and I research things around this theme, perhaps linking a poem with a specific artist that I think matches its spirit. Once I have all the elements, I write everything down. And then, with the story in my mind and written down, I can start designing.” As time-consuming as this is, Rowen Rose can’t imagine working any other way: “In order to create, I have to find meaning and inspiration that drives me,” she says. “I need to feel like every piece in the collection is there for a reason.” 

“iT's pReTTy eASy TO tRAnSLATe a COLLeCTiON FROm A pOEm BeCAUse THe OnES i LOVe ARe VeRy ViSUaL.”

To put it plainly, there are no accidents at Rowen Rose – “every piece has something to say,” she explains. That said, there’s nothing to stop this message from changing once the pieces are put on. “It’s very satisfying when you see someone embody your aesthetic and make it their own,” Rowen Rose says. This might explain why she doesn’t “picture a specific woman” in the design process: “I’m happy to dress whoever dares to wear my clothing.”

Ultimately, there would be no Rowen Rose without intellectual curiosity and emotionality. “Each season it’s that same excitement of finding something new to communicate that drives me,” she says. “I really hope that people are curious enough to dig in and discover what’s been my inspiration and can then, in turn, discover new artists, new books, new movies and new writers.” However, she’s realistic about the fact that this might not happen: “I know a lot of people don’t care, but I do – I do it for me.” And that’s exactly the stance one should take when wearing Rowen Rose. 

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