By Christy Anyanwu

Mary Martin London is a favourite among celebrities around the world who seek her magnificent bespoke designs for their red carpet fashion.

She has become an inspirational role model for upcoming young designers in London, United Kingdom. Living in a foster home as a teenager eventually brought out the best in her through her fashion design prowess.

Mary’s head-turning designs, full of colour, texture and vibrancy, have sold out catwalk shows in the UK, Brazil, Ghana, South Africa and Scotland, to name a few destinations. Her talents have made her much in demand in the music and film industries, whether styling popstar videos or designing and making costumes for Bollywood movies. In this interview with Saturday Sun in London, Mary, who recently got honoured in Atlanta, Georgia, by the Atlanta City Council, which dedicated Saturday, December 9, 2023, as Mary Martin Appreciation Day, spoke with our reporter about her sojourn in the fashion world, especially her voyage to becoming a frontline designer in London.

Could you tell us more about yourself?

My name is Mary Martin London. I started fashion designing about eight years ago. I’m self-taught. I dream and get inspiration in multiple places.

What kind of fashion do you do?

I always tell myself I want to make something nobody has seen before, which is my own, original and authentic. I make a dress with the strings. The fabric must appeal to me and have a cool touch 

How do you get inspiration to do all these things?

I always tell people I get inspiration from God. I was brought up in a children’s home. When I was young, I remember my parents teaching me about God. My parents are ministers, and basically, I believe we are created by God. In the beginning, God created heaven and earth; all things were made by him, without Him was not anything made. So, if he created us in his image, we are creators like him. We create, and God is my creator and inspiration.

Aside from Africa Fashion Week London, what other shows do you do?

Last year, I did my own show, tagged “Experience with Mary Martin London.” I also went to Africa Fashion Week Brazil with Queen Ronke Ademiluyi Ogunwusi. I’m working with God and he’s always guiding me.  You always say you are the queen of the catwalk and nobody is taking your place.

Why that statement?

So, when I’m on the catwalk, that’s the only place that makes me feel wanted in life. I make sure I maintain it. That’s the feeling I want to have all the time. So, I work very hard. When I’m coming out at the end of my show on the catwalk with the models, I cherish those few minutes on the runway.

So you didn’t have any formal training as a designer?

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In 2016, I returned to education and gained a Higher National Diploma from the London College of Contemporary Arts and graduated from the University of East London with a degree in Fashion Textiles just three years later. At the same time, I launched my eponymous label. My passion for textiles, form, silhouette and innovation shines through all my clothes and collections.

Fashion is an expression; it is part of your soul. You can’t fake it; you can only improve your art by opening up to other cultures and living experiences.

How did you come about being honoured in Atlanta recently?

When they said they really appreciated me, I thought they got the wrong woman, and when they said ‘We appreciate you,’ my eyes rolled up: awww, they really appreciate me here! And when they said they were giving me my own day, I said ‘Thank you Jesus’ inside. I couldn’t believe it. I have never seen any Black person that got their own day. I thought, maybe Martin Luther King. It’s amazing. That is working with God because it’s only God that can put me where he has put me.

What is the award about?

The Power  of a Woman Awards nominated me for the prestigious awards. According to them, being nominated for such an esteemed award is a testament to my hard work and commitment to excellence.

My achievements and notable contributions, how I have significantly impacted and inspired many.

In the organisers words: “This award aims to celebrate and honour individuals like you, who exemplify exactly what it means to be a ‘powerful woman’ in todays world, whether that be through talent, selfless acts or indeed just inspiring others. Your nomination serves as a shining example of the embodiment of these values, and we are thrilled to have you among this year’s exceptional nominees”.

What is your nationality?

My mother is Jewish, my father is Jamaican. My father’s father is Jamaican and his mother is a Ghanaian. So, I’m kind of mixed. Jamaican, Jewish and Ghanaian, all strong, good blood. I had my DNA done and I had 75 per cent Ghanaian, and I’m also a Ghanaian queen. God has really blessed me.

Black culture is at the heart of my creativity and I have been recognised by the king and the people of Maif Anfoe/Volta Region, Ghana, as Queen Mother, for charitable works. I was the first woman of colour to showcase her work at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the heart of Westminster, London.

Why do you have so much passion for Nigeria?

I have a lot of Nigerians around me. They are very intelligent and they have always looked out for me since I was young. I had a lot of Nigerians in the flat where I used to live and they cooked for me all the time. I just love them. I love Africans. I love Blacks. I have embraced Black culture.

My favourite food is Egusi soup. Everybody would tell you that. I eat it with pounded yam. I use my fork and knife. I am African. I found my roots before anybody and I love being Black. I love knowing what I know about being African-rooted. If you don’t embrace your black self, who else is going to embrace you? I love being black and I love my black life.