Stqarrija bil-Malti Agħfas Hawn / Press Release in Maltese Click Here

Renowned local designers Charles and Ron Van Maarschalkerweerd Borg, the creative minds behind the fashion label Charles & Ron, have donated to the national collection a dress made for the prestigious Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, marking a special occasion in Maltese cultural heritage.

Charles and Ron were welcomed at the Inquisitor’s Palace – National Museum of Ethnography by Heritage Malta’s Chief Executive Officer Noel Zammit, Chief Operations Officer Kenneth Gambin, and the museum’s curatorial team. The designers explored the national costumes and textiles collection, gaining insight into Malta’s rich cultural history.

Following this, the designers visited Heritage Malta’s textile conservation laboratory at the agency’s Head Office in Bighi, Kalkara. Guided by the conservation team, Charles and Ron were given an exclusive tour of the state-of-the-art facility, which preserves and restores Malta’s textile heritage.

The donated dress, an exquisite piece designed for the 2017 Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, symbolises the unity and creative prowess of designers across the Commonwealth’s 53 countries. Made from Woolmark-certified wool crepe, the dress features a full, floor-length skirt with appliqué Maltese doorknockers beaded and embellished by Mumbai-based designer Khushboo. The coordinating blouse features Maltese lace, and the ensemble is completed with a hand-tooled leather belt. The piece is also listed on Google Arts & Culture, a platform which features content from over 2000 leading museums and archives: 

Charles and Ron remarked that it is with great pleasure and honour that they donate this dress to Heritage Malta, knowing that it will be expertly taken care of and preserved for future generations. They pointed out that the dress symbolises their commitment to Maltese heritage and design, and after being exhibited at Buckingham Palace, FIT New York and The Royal Ascot, they are delighted that it will now find its place as a permanent part of the Malta National Collection.

Claire Bonavia, Heritage Malta’s Principal Conservator for Textiles and Paper, emphasised that this type of donation enriches the national collection by including works from local designers, a novelty. She stated that, “The role of the conservator is to preserve this dress in the most ethical way possible so it can be enjoyed in the future.”

Anna Maria Gatt, Heritage Malta’s Costumes and Textiles Curator, said that along with being treated, “the narrative of the dress will be documented, made available for education and outreach programmes, research, publications and possible temporary exhibitions. In line with other donations, this clearly indicates that Heritage Malta does not only safeguard the past but also present-day treasures, for future generations”.

Noel Zammit, Heritage Malta’s Chief Executive Officer, expressed his gratitude: “This generous donation by Charles and Ron significantly elevates our country’s national collection. It is a testament to the global impact of Maltese design which, as part of our cultural fabric, Heritage Malta vows to continue to act as a shield and promoter of.”

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