VALLETTA – Born and bred on a little archipelago just below Sicily, I’ve grown up in a community slow to social change. Often, I find myself desperate to move away to bigger cities, where I can immerse myself in the hustle-and-bustle of people who are free (or at least more free) to be themselves. If you’re looking for a patriotic post praising Maltese fashion, you might want to search elsewhere.
I’m so happy to live on such a beautiful island, blessed with weather that many people are not lucky to have in their countries, surrounded by some pretty beautiful olive-skinned, wavy-haired individuals. Very exotic, is it not? If you’re ever planning a trip to Malta, expect a few things. Expect beautiful spring mornings with a slight breeze; expect clear blue sea; expect a tan (or sunburn). Expect to see the elderly men in Valletta done up from head-to-toe in what may be called their ‘Sunday best’. Expect to see sea-salt hair and light, crisp, beach outfits in places like Sliema and Qawra. Expect functionality in the South. Nothing more. Expect no fashion in Malta.
People here import their style from other countries, myself included. We buy magazines and visit websites to get inspired by celebrities and the like. We are outsiders; happily following fashion happenings in other countries from afar, while perched safely in our little nest called Malta. I want that to change. I guess this is why I started the blog, to break out of my shell and finally do what I’ve always wanted to do – to dress for myself and nobody else, all the while showing others that they can do the same.
Visiting so many fashion shows and meeting so many new people who play an active role in the fashion industry, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought over the last month or so. We all know that there are some pretty seriously stylish individuals here in Malta, but these are a relatively rare occurrence. I want Malta to continue rising, I want our ‘style’ to evolve and become a separate entity. The French have their understated chic, the Londonners have their urban-cool, the Swedes and Finns have their sleek functionality. What do we have?
Malta has so much potential. For such a small island, its inhabitants pack a lot of punch. They’re passionate, they’re fiesty, and they generally speak their mind. Why, then, are so many Maltese people so ready to conform to a sartorial template where shoes religiously match bags, and where bodycon dresses are considered the only option for nights out? Why are women only seen as ‘sexy’ when wearing the same-old skirt or dress outfits? Why are all teenage boys simultaneously sporting the same haircut? Maybe it’s because the country is so small, that trends seem overdone to the point of burnout, maybe that’s why sometimes I feel as if I’m amidst a sea of clones. Maybe it’s because the majority of us see fashion as ‘unnecessary’, and prefer to spend their time on more ‘fruitful’ activities.
Change is happening, though; it is all around me, and I can see that. It’s slow, but it’s happening. The fashion industry here in Malta is rising, and is being given more importance each year, with more and more people coming out of their shells and expressing themselves through their garments. Call me impatient, but I just wish it could hurry up- we’re not getting any younger.
Ellie Cutajar – The Uni-form
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