For last month’s issue, we shot our fashion story in the National Library of Malta. The building, which was built in 1776, has always enchanted me. It is situated on one of my favourite squares in the capital city and features an impressive arcade of archways, complete with intricate stone detailing, of course.
I am told, by the librarian on-site (she is also a book restoration specialist and a trained archaeologist), that the library was one of the last buildings in Valletta to be built by the Knights of St John and was originally designed to hold their private book collections. As decedents of some of the world’s wealthiest and influential families, these collections contain many rare, valuable and unique books. The librarian adds, with a note of pride, that the library plays hosts to many scholars, researchers, historians and Melitensia enthusiasts each year, all hoping to unearth a hidden treasure (an overlooked piece of marginalia, perhaps, or a yellowed slip of paper lost between two pages).
On the day of the shoot, we feel the lofty weight of History upon our every move. Those who had stood here before us, those who had written the words that surrounded us. We took note of the warped wooden ladders, escalating high up to the ceiling, emphasising the grand scale of the space; the portraits of great men hidden amongst the bookcases; the carefully organised books – by date, by title – and correlated against a handwritten index card found in a collection of dark wood cabinets.
We created a story within a story; our first chapter.