Returning to St. Julian’s, we had just enough time for a quick swim at the InterContinental Malta before meeting Charles & Ron for dinner at Fifty Nine Republic (www.fiftyninerepublic.com) in Valetta. After a Champagne toast, we talked about the fashion company they created together.
Charles & Ron (www.charlesandron.com) is a contemporary lifestyle brand featuring high-end clothing and bags with a distinct Mediterranean flair. Maltese culture is an integral part of the Charles & Ron design ethic. The designers are mostly self–taught and are Malta’s leading fashion house. Since 2014 they have consistently shown their collections during New York and Los Angeles fashion week, and are regular guests at fashion weeks throughout Europe. Charles & Ron were one of the few designers that were selected in 2018 to exhibit one of their couture designs at Buckingham Palace for the commonwealth fashion exchange. The exhibition, curated by Vogue’s Hamish Bowles also featured Stella Mccartney, Burberry, and Karen Walker among others. The night was a first at the palace and guest included Naomi Campell and Anna Wintour who complimented the designers on their work.
Charles and Ron met in Amsterdam in 1992 and Ron moved to Malta shortly afterwards. Their love of Malta, and the inspiration it provides to their designs is apparent during our lively conversation. As a couple, they are able to work and live together, while maintaining a love of life and each other. Their stories about being gay on Malta will make for a great memoir someday. For now, however, they are focused on their designs and the joy they are able to bring to others. As my husband and I shared our own story of the ups and downs of building a publishing business together, we felt an immediate rapport with Charles and Ron. Coming of age as gay men during a time of discrimination and liberation, each of us knew how important it was to be true to ourselves while pursuing our dreams. Life was not always easy, but we celebrated life while struggling to achieve equality. Seeing how far Malta has come in regards to LGBTQ rights is a source of great pride for Charles and Ron, whose work and creativity is an inspiration to younger people around the world.
As we shared a delightful meal together, one of my favorite quotes by Tim Cahill came to mind: “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”