Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Exclusive: Casely-Hayford Preview for Dazed Digital

Following on from their fashion film collaboration with Sean Frank last season, Casely-Hayford have traded in their hockey sticks for a set of skateboard decks for SS14.

Your average skater may don baggy DC jeans, big-as-bricks Vans, oversized Supreme T-shirts and Stüssy hoodies, but this brand’s subcultural army has a far more refined fashion palette. Their trousers of choice are constructed of Japanese indigo-dyed and embroidered denim, their deconstructed jackets cut with Savile Row-like precision, their tops emblazoned with pixelated prints instead of in-your-face logos and their skateboards made of hand-quilted leather (courtesy of the brand’s new luggage collaboration with H by Harris). The entire collection was appropriately documented at East London-based warehouse-turned-skating space, Quaker Street Bowl.

“Skate has this amazing, raw energy. We were interested in this idea of a new age skater and a subculture existing within popular culture,” explains one half of the menswear label, Charlie Casely-Hayford. Together with his father Joe, he researched the scene’s different international reincarnations as a starting point for the new season, with a photograph of Apache skateboarders by Dustinn Craig proving to be of particular significance. “It just felt so modern, the fusion of these two cultures that don’t really belong together. We were looking at how you can integrate skate culture into your own society. Hearing about plans to shut down the Southbank skate space just reinforced our interest in this idea of a colony of people creating a micro culture within a mass cultural space,” he says.

Although the young designer admits to dabbling in skateboarding during his youth, his own relationship to the scene is more one of appreciation rather than participation. “I’m interested in the authenticity of the lifestyle. Skaters don’t just skate, it’s an entire world that everything is built around. There aren’t many things like that, where you completely immerse yourself in it,” he notes. The sense of liberation and freedom within the skating world also resulted in a more relaxed look this season around, evidenced in pieces such as a charcoal blazer with lapel-shaped cutouts, drawstring waisted wool trousers and a bomber jacket with an inner racerback construction.

It isn’t just aesthetics that attracted the father and son design duo to the world of skateboarding. There is also the aspect of a tribe-like culture, identical to those existing within fashion. “The idea of the Casely-Hayford tribe and what it stands for - this transcultural mix, where you take elements from all the different cultures around you to define you’re identity - is one of the main things that drives us each season,” Casely-Hayford says.

While sports culture is an integral part of the brand’s English sartorialism meets British anarchism philosophy, sportswear in itself has undeniably become a deeply embedded part of UK culture - chav connotations and all. “Sportswear is such a big influence for us because it’s almost like a British national identity,” he explains. “The uniform of our biggest subcultures now is a head-to-toe sportswear look. When people look back at our time, will that be what they see as reflecting the disillusioned youth of this period? Sportswear is so prevalent and such a prominent part of society, you can’t deny it.”

Read the full article here.

Q&A: John Maybury for Dazed Digital

No elaborate sets. No orchestrated movie soundtrack. No colossal casts. Just 72 minutes of Tilda Swinton giving her all on-screen. But as John Maybury’s 1992 film Man to Man proves, that’s all you need. In his adaption of Manfred Karge’s play, the British actress takes on over a dozen roles in both male and female form, retelling 50 years of German history from alternating personal standpoints.

The films opens with a beer-chugging pensioner by the name of Ella Gericke, a widow who took on the role of her deceased husband as a crane operator in Weimar, Germany. What follows are numerous short monologues set in sparse surroundings such as a haystack background or concrete-floored prison cell, interspersed with black and white archive footage and basic audio elements such as the sound of marching soldiers.

This sparseness of all visual and auditory effects only serves to highlight the strength of Swinton’s performance and makes each scene all the more haunting. With an almost frightening ability she switches from character to character, be it a rowdy man slapping his prosthetic cock on the table screaming “Ich bin ein deutscher Mann” (I am a German man), a smooth-talking would-be Clark Gable or a coquettish Snow White lookalike nicknamed Püppchen.

Although the film may start and end with the humourous lines of “another night of rubbish on the telly”, Man to Man proves to move far beyond this self-deprecating slogan. It’s a study in gender and human existence, an emotional historic recountal, but above all a demonstration of Tilda Swinton’s acting range and aptitude. 

Dazed spoke to director John Maybury about the challenges of adapting Karge’s austere theatre play to the big screen, cinematic collage language born out of necessity and his verdict about the experimental piece of cinema two decades on.

Dazed Digital: What initially sparked your interest in this project?

John Maybury: In actual fact it was Tilda Swinton that approached me and asked if I would be interested in adapting the stage play for her. I’d worked with her and Derek Jarman on several projects before that: War Requiem, The Last of England, Jubilee. She’d performed the play at the Royal Courts in London before and it was a very austere, minimal stage production, so what was interesting to me was adapting the monologue and turning it into a film using what was then the contemporary digital language. In a way, I was trying to make an MTV kind of experiment. It was like a bridge; I had been making experimental films for about ten years already at that point but also started making pop videos. It was interesting trying to combine those two languages.

DD: What was the process like of adapting Manfred Karge’s play?

John Maybury: What intrigued me was what you can’t do on stage and can do with film. You can get a subtlety of performance in a close-up that you can’t do in a play. The first thing we did was Tilda came round to my flat and I had a little Hi8 video camera and just sat her on a chair in front of me and had her perform the piece straight to me. We watched it together and used that as a point of departure for how to develop different ideas.

In the theatre production, she was alone on stage with just a couple of minimal props. The audience had to do all the work themselves, they had to go in their imagination on a journey with her, almost like in a radio play. But with cinema and television, audiences demand a bit more. We recognised quite quickly that there was an opportunity for her, although she was playing the same character all the way through, to actually play different aspects of that character and to visualise those in different ways.

DD: There is a very intense connection with Tilda when watching the film because it is shot so close-up, in some scenes the camera even focuses in on her right eye.

John Maybury: Exactly. You can do those things with cinema that you just can’t to do in the theatrical situation, but also all the way through I was deliberately referencing other work. When the mouth is speaking through the distorted magnifying glass, that’s a reference to the Samuel Beckett play, Not I. When she is sitting there talking about Kristallnacht and a bucket of blood falls down on her, that’s a reference to the Viennese Actionist artists from the 50s and early 60s.

There are lots of different little references to the German arts, the Weimar Republic and the Weimar cabaret. In the archive footage I've used bits of the fantastic Dziga Vertov film, Man with a Movie Camera. There are lots of different bits and pieces and layers, but it’s quaint how in 1992 a lot of that was quite cutting edge [laughs].

DD: What was it like working with Tilda Swinton on the production?

John Maybury: Tilda, Derek Jarman and I were all great friends. We had worked together before on Derek’s productions which were very emotional, very intense and very personal. It was just friends collaborating, it had that feeling of a bunch of kids having a mad time.

But for some reason, whenever I work with Tilda, I always give her horrible false teeth and make her look really ugly. What’s refreshing about Tilda is that she does not have any vanity at all. Although people know her as one of the world’s best dressed women, if you look at her film work across the board, she’s very happy to go to places as an actor that a lot of actresses just won't go to - they’re too concerned about their image. Tilda has got that weird balance where she’s an intellectual but also an incredibly beautiful creature, yet there isn’t a contradiction there. Those two characters coexist quite happily.

DD: What style were you trying to achieve when selecting the accompanying audio and visual footage?

John Maybury: The archive footage from various time periods gave another texture to the film, but also it was layering up images in the same way that the text layers up images in your mind. It helps you as a member of the audience to construct an image in your head from the experiences that she is describing. In a funny way, it was asking the audience to do the editing in their head as they were watching it. That’s really the idea behind it, plus we only had about £110,000 to shoot the whole thing, so it was also born out of necessity.

We shot it in ten days in a studio and I went up to Berlin to do some exterior shots there which I tried to treat to make them look like archive footage. It’s about applying a collage language. For the sound effects, it’s interesting again that you can create pictures by manipulating sound in the different levels of the performance, whether she is whispering or by adding sound effects underneath her monologue. It’s really just about making a collage to support her performance all the way down the line.

DD: How do you see the themes of sexuality, life and death being addressed in the film?

John Maybury: Believe it or not, Man to Man is actually based on the true story of a woman who lived disguised as her husband in Germany. Manfred Karge adapted it from news items he found in old papers from the 20s. So even though it’s quite an extraordinary, fantastical, out there film, there is that thread of truth running through it that gives it a power.

For me, it’s a tale about survival techniques. It’s something that as a a gay man I’m fully aware of, the different strategies you have to try and apply just to navigate life. I’ve just been watching stuff recently on the news about what’s going on in Russia with the treatment of gay, lesbian and transgender people there. In some parts of the world the treatment of outsiders, if you want to call us that, is still very difficult; so the film has its own relevance in that respect for sure. In times of recession and when things get tough, it can actually provoke the very worst in people, culture and societies at large, as well as the best.

Aging is another subject in the play, but you’re as young as you feel. I think that’s why Manfred Karge’s text is really clever because it does touch very lightly on all those subjects: identity, sexuality, time passing and memories. It does it in a very interesting way and I hope that the film, although it is much more visceral and difficult, takes the audience on that same kind of journey.

DD: How do you feel when watching the film now?

John Maybury: Looking back, the film was quite radical at that time. The content was really strong, it touched something in people. Obviously, that mostly has to do with the quality of Tilda’s performance, but also with Manfred Karge’s text. Between those two things there’s an awful lot of complex subject matter being woven together, but I hope that the film helps those things come out in different ways – supports them in some places, underlines certain points or maybe contradicts them in other places. But my main objective was always that it would make an audience think.

After recently watching the film for the first time in twenty years, I have to say I like it a lot. I like the person who made it and it’s a nice reminder to me that I should be prepared to take risks. I’ve done big productions but you maybe get into a comfort zone of doing things in a more slick, traditional way and actually, I like that person who was brave enough to be that experimental. I’m quite happy that he should come back again every now and then. 

Man to Man screens at the ICA until Thursday 20 June.

Read the full article here.

Holy Handbags for Twin Magazine blog

Amy Davidson, a BA (Hons) Fashion student at Manchester School of Art, recent won the Mulberry Accessories Award at Graduate Fashion Week for her intricate wood and laser cut leather men's accessories. Twin spoke to the young designer about her gothic architecture and French cathedral-inspired collection and post graduate plans…

How did it feel to win the Mulberry Accessories Award at 

I couldn’t believe it, the competition was tough this year so I was 
overwhelmed with joy. It also gave me the confidence to keep designing and
 thinking of new ideas. I want to use the same methods from making these bags 
into something new.

What inspired you to pursue womenswear and men's accessories?

Throughout university and college I enjoyed designing and making feminine
 clothes. I love lace and girly printed fabrics. As I grew and developed my
 design philosophy, I began to love the idea of having these same designs on a
 man. Sometimes designing traditional feminine shapes on a woman can be quite 
predictable and bland, however if you put this on a man it becomes edgy and 
unusual. I chose accessories as a career choice because my work is very 3D. I am 
always trying to place unusual fabrications around the body, so it made more
 sense to study accessories. It’s important for me to find a career I enjoy
 and feel comfortable in.

You mentioned that you like to question why and how we wear fashion 
and how you can influence others. Would you like to elaborate on how 
this ethos feeds into your designs?

This ethos feeds into my designs by taking a generic garment and using it in a new way. In my final degree project I started making a
 traditional corset shape out of boning, then covered it in knitting and 
twisted it into new mysterious shapes around the body. The idea that we have
 to dress a certain way with certain rules doesn’t apply to my designs. I 
would much rather create an art form on the body then a generic shirt and
 pants collection.

Where do you find your inspiration and which designers do you look 
up to?

The inspiration for my collection came from my travels in France last
 summer. I visited a few cathedrals and fell in love with the intricate
 details found around the buildings and on the ceilings. I also love things 
that are delicate like lace, you can see the skill and time that went into
 making something like that. My fascination with both these things lead me to
 design detailed laser cut patterns inspired by gothic imagery.

I chose to 
use the colours black and silver because they are the colours most used in
 my research and work best with the look I tried to achieve.
 The designer I look at the most is Iris Van Herpen, she uses multiple textile techniques and unusual fashion materials to create beautiful
 garments that shock and inspire her audience.
 Another designer is Sandra Backlund, her visionary knitwear breaks the
 mould and shows how sometimes the best way to create exciting garments is to
 let the fabric inform the designs, not flat 2D drawings.

What was the process of creating your graduate accessories 
collection like?

The process of creating my graduate accessories collection was mainly trial 
and error. With most of my technical knowledge in pattern cutting and
sewing, I was faced with the challenge of using wood to create my bags. The most
 logical way for me was to have small holes around each piece of wood and sew 
them together with thick leather thread. Luckily this technique worked well
 and fitted in with the rest of my design.

How would you describe your aesthetic and how would you like to 
further develop as a designer in the future?

My design aesthetic is a real mix of my love for history, be it 
architecture or costume, and modern art. I keep my designs contemporary by 
mixing both research areas to create something original. 
I would like to further develop as a designer in the future by finding new
 ways to use my inspirational imagery. I think I would like to not be so
 literal in my design themes in the future. I enjoy collections that are not 
too overstated, where you can't see straight away where there designs came from, and that are a mix of ideas or a different take on the brand's own
 signature style.

What are your postgraduate plans?

My post graduate plans are to do some freelance design work and then a
 Masters in accessories at the Royal College of Art in September.
 My dream career scenario would be to work for Mulberry or Marc Jacobs, I 
love the quality of finish and the craftsmanship in each item. They design
 stylish accessories that are clean and sophisticated which I’m really 
interested in.

Read the full article here.

Jackie Villevoye Discusses Why a Bow Tie Makes an Outfit and the Importance of Artisanal Craftsmanship for A Shaded View On Fashion

Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,

Jackie Villevoye has been creating unique and handmade accessories under her label Jupe by Jackie since 2010. Formerly an art collector, photographer and interior decorator, the designer learned the high craft of hand embroidery in India before opening up her own atelier. Distinguished for the painstaking needle artwork put into each silk tie, bow tie, pocket square and scarf, Villevoye’s brand has since expanded into womenswear and is stocked at illustrious retailers including Colette, Dover Street Market and Barneys. 

In the following interview, she reveals what family photograph sparked her passion for ties, adding identity back into the world of fashion and why all her designs should be worn with a smile.

What first sparked your fascination with ties?

A tie for a man is the same as a (neck) jewel for a woman; it peppers and brings the colours of shirt and suit in balance. Moreover, a tie makes a man more interesting.

How would you describe your aesthetic? 

My main focus is to work on a proper symmetrical or correctly proportional design in the right colour combinations. Overall I am a colour freak.

What was the inspiration behind your latest designs?


What makes a bow tie such a crucial part of an outfit?

A bow tie is a fun accessory, giving a young , fashionable and ‘intellectual’ character all in one (the tuxedo bow tie excluded of course).

What is your favourite bow tie of all time and what is the story behind it?

There is a photograph of my children at the beach where they were all dressed up for a ‘family shoot’. My youngest son, Julien is dressed in white with a classic yellow/navy silk mini bow tie, making him more cute than ever. That was the moment where my love for these accessories started.

In your brand's statement you mention the importance of individuality. How vital is this aspect of fashion to you and do you think that in a world of mass production this idea is still achievable? 

Walking through big streets such as as Oxford Street in London or Kalverstraat in Amsterdam and seeing all people dressed as one big black crowd makes me sad. Designers should educate on a daily basis that a colourful world is a more happy and interesting world. Hopefully each Jupe piece I sell will add a little bit more ‘identity’.

Having learned the craft of needle artwork, how important do you see the relationship between a creative vision and artisanal ability in design?

In my brand this is of MAIN importance! 

Do you find this craftsmanship aspect is perhaps neglected in the fashion industry, i.e. in machine-made designs or sweatshop production?

Unfortunately, the fact is that there is only a small group of people who want to spend money on clothing, and understand the ‘art’ of how to dress. For this reason, it is logical that machine-made clothing rules the market.

How do you see your womenswear collections as an expansion of your brand?

The skills of the hand embroidery put into a Jupe by Jackie piece are executed at the highest possible level, making the dresses special and rare pieces. The uniqueness make them precious. I do not think of the word expansion. I just love making them, together with these great artists!

What are your plans for the future?

Hopefully I can continue doing this for a long, long time. I love what I am doing and trust that I can make people happy with a hand embroidered piece — and have them wear it with a smile!



Read the full article here.

Cunt Today for Twin Magazine blog

Founded by Phoebe Collings-James, Cunt Today is the latest online platform for feminist interaction and debate, gathering information on current news and events alongside original contributor articles.
Twin spoke to the artist about the inspiration behind her site and her views on fourth wave feminism…

What inspired you to launch Cunt Today?
I’ve been using the word cunt since I was at primary school, shouting it at boys, girls and inanimate broken objects. Before I even understood what it meant. It is a powerful word, it is supposedly offensive, especially seductive and very pleasurable to use.

But powerful and offensive is how women’s sexuality and freedom is treated in society on the whole. I feel as though men and women are increasingly aware of how important gender issues are and wanted to set up a forum to share ideas and promote action.

Who got you involved in feminism and what does modern-day feminism mean to you?

My mother, even though she still won’t call herself one. She says she is a humanist, which is interesting when you think of one of the most important phrases of the women’s movement: ‘Womens Rights are Human Rights’. She taught me that I could do, say and be whatever I wanted.

Feminism today is about affirming those things for every girl and woman, through law and society. Feminism means something different to everyone. For me, it’s about equality and empowerment, and not letting gendered ideas of who or what we should be prevail.

It’s about addressing violence against women, supporting new structures of work and child care that deal with the realities of contemporary families. Not the Dickensian ones that David Cameron seems to be enamoured by.

How do you think does your background as an artist feed into the project?

A lot of the projects I have been involved in have been especially arts based, like the East London Fawcett group. They recently did an extensive audit into the ratios of male to female artists represented in galleries, museums, art magazines and auctions. This was a really important survey for me, simply to confirm that I am not totally delusional and that the massive indifference is real.

Creative people have the potential to change the way we live and a lot of their decisions affect our politics — in architecture, fashion and advertising, as well as art. I think it is especially important that they are morally conscious of the decisions they make.

What do you hope for viewers to take away from the site and what can we expect from it in the future?

I want them to speak about what they have read and open up debates. Get people talking and thinking.  I wanted the site to be in the style of a blog rather than a magazine because it is supposed to be an open resource, for people to contribute and gather information. It would be great for this to grow and continue into the future.

Read the full article here.

The Occult of Paraphotography for Dazed Digital

In attempt to capture the intangible and investigating all things esoteric, mystical, and supernatural, On Paraphotography: Uncertainty, the Occult and the Uncanny is an exploration into the aesthetic realms of supernatural representation through photography. Exhibiting at Harlan Levey Projects in Brussels, the show features the work of Czech photographer Tereza Zelenkova, AnOther contributor Paulina Otylie Surys, the 1930s photographer Joel-Peter Witkin, and Jeffrey Silverthorne. Here, its curator Brad Feuerhelm discusses the concept of ‘the other’, Catholicism versus occult ideology and post-LaVeyan Satanism:

Dazed Digital: Where did the inspiration for this exhibit come from?
Brad Feuerhelm: I have been after this esoteric material for some time now. I was selling a lot of it to clients abroad when one day I just started holding it back, as it was too fascinating to continually sell. I'm interested in the many forms of esoteric and pagan thought as the current norm of religious aptitude is a bore for me. Being without a designated religion myself, the appeal to older customs and rituals provides a stepping stone into a historic territory that photography just marginally covers.

DD: What is it about the occult that fascinates you?
Brad Feuerhelm: The idea that people believe it. It is a very intense system of practice, and in order to fully understand ‘the occult’ one must spend a majority of one’s life in total belief of the other while following a very disciplined series of defined steps in order to achieve spiritual clarity. I am mostly drawn to the aesthetics.

DD: Why do you think does this topic cause such polarising reactions of either fascination or fear?
Brad Feuerhelm: Catholicism's massive crush on occult ideology has been embedded in society at large for 600 years. If you live in ‘the norm’, you will be inflicted with anxiety towards ‘the other’. It causes irrational behaviour and fear, much like everything these days... a completely emotional response devoid of clarity to reason and the acceptance of different ideologies.

DD: How do you see the idea of the mystical and creativity correlating to one another?
Brad Feuerhelm: There is definitely some correlation there. Many of the rites and rituals associated with the occult and perhaps Left Hand post-LaVeyan Satanism suggests a quest for the now and unique. It is about the self and maturing in such a way as to promote creative thinking and individual thought. They are actually quite similar.

DD: What does each individual artist bring to the show?
Brad Feuerhelm: Paulina Otylie Surys and Tereza Zelenkova are both pillars of creative photography. Surys’ work echoes the boudoir chamber of dark light and Zelenkova's practice is about the subtle Czech penchant for melancholia. Joel-Peter Witkin incorporates the ritual of death as does Jeffrey Silverthorne. The process of the uncanny and uncertain is delivered through understanding the body in transition.

DD: What would you like the viewers to take away from this exhibition?
Brad Feuerhelm: A sense of viewing something they have not quite seen before. There is very little horror associated with the show, so the shock element is not there unless you really want it to be. Perhaps if you are faint of heart or brain, it may leave you feeling like you need to commune with your deity further. That would also be a fine way to leave.

Read the full article here.

Niclas Lydeen of Agonist Discusses Sustainable Perfume Production and 360 Degree Fragrance Experiences for A Shaded View on Fashion

Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,

AGONIST is the brainchild of Swedish designers Christine Gustafsson and Niclas Lydeen. Formed in 2008, their fragrance brand is focused on creating 100 percent natural fragrances inspired by Nordic culture. Presented in exceptionally handcrafted sculpture bottles and through art installations at events such as UNSCENT, their products are visually as they are olfactorily pleasing and give AGONIST its own unique sector in the niche perfume market.

Lydeen sat down to discuss the beauty of melancholy, multi-layered sensory experiences and the brand's latest fragrance creation...

I wanted to start off by talking about the founding of your company. Your fashion and visual arts backgrounds are quite unusual. How did this idea of doing fragrances come about? 

It was when me and Christine met. She moved back from Paris where she did fashion for many years and I was working a lot with graphic design, packaging and art direction for various campaigns. We met and started to collaborate on this idea of how to — via imagery, storytelling, graphic design and conceptual ideas — create a brand based on giving life to an invisible product like fragrance.

We’ve always had a love for fragrance and been very fascinated by that sensuous, individual experience. We just saw that we wanted to do this together and started to think about themes and ideas. We wanted to show another side to this perception of clean Swedish design. We were more inspired by a poetic, darker and melancholic side of the Swedish culture and heritage.

Do you have certain artists, movements or visuals that you find your brand’s aesthetic continually inspired by? 

It’s always evolving, but we are quite drawn to Surrealists and abstract modern art, things that are conceptually strong and more based on an idea rather than actual decorative or figurative art. We really love music, movies and photographers like Guy Bourdin. The Swedish poet Karin Boye is our muse and we found a lot of fascinating themes in her work.

We get inspiration from a lot of different directions but it’s always things that give an experience and inspire you. That could be because fragrance for us is very much an individual experience. In fashion you can impose a trend or style that people collectively agree upon, but for fragrance it’s up to you, if you like it. It’s the same with abstract art. It’s something that the heart realises within you. It doesn’t tell you what it is, so when you experience it, it’s your own imagery and emotions. That’s what inspires AGONIST creations.

How does your background help shape the way you go about creating a perfume? 

When we started AGONIST it was very much based on our own sense of taste and expressions. Agonist means two things connect and a third thing is created, two things join and a third one is awakened or two forces unite and become a third. It was the same with Christine’s background, my background and the way our creativity meets. But I think we are quite experienced and sure of what we like and have the possibility to express that in the packaging and visuals.

When we then get into this abstract world of fragrance, we find our concept and then have different skills to express ourselves surrounding that. Our background makes us quite secure in what we want. When we started, we saw all these perfume brands just packaging in ordinary bottles, everything looked the same and people didn’t really use the other dimensions of a fragrance experience. You have the fragrance and then you have all these layers of communication surrounding it. It think we found something there that really made all our other expertises connect.

For your sculpture bottles the aesthetic is quite a modern look but the company you work with was founded in 1742. It brings together something very traditional with a modern vision of fragrance. How do you see that relationship between the scent and how you are going to visualise it? 

We always thought about creating something based on the quality of raw materials and a sustainable approach. Our initial idea was to create a perfume bottle that you would never throw away. Today with the mass market packaging, people are buying it, then throwing it away and buying a new one. We wanted to started with this more old school point, these refillable flacons which you have in your home that your kids will inherit. Hopefully when you find a fragrance you love, you really want to cherish and keep it.

When we started thinking about the bottles, we knew that we had this fantastic heritage of Swedish art glass. The material is so beautiful, we thought that it was the optimal possibility to try and push that traditional way of glassblowing. We approached Kosta Boda and one of the artists, Åsa Jungnelius, had the same idea. She is a traditional glassblower but still has this modern aesthetic. We met up with her, started to collaborate and really connected. We started to create ideas that she could in turn translate to the glassblowers and help us realise.

Now after a few years, we have found a unique way to approach glassblowing, which is also based on the quality of raw materials and process. We wanted to create handcrafted bottles so that no piece looks the same. When you buy an AGONIST sculpture you know that it is only yours, so it is about connecting all that individuality.

What is really interesting as well is this aspect of sustainability because that is never really addressed in perfumery. On the whole your fragrances are natural, so I was wondering where you stand on the natural ingredients versus synthetics debate?

We’re quite humble because our aim is to create products that will last, and in the biggest regard possible take care of nature. One hundred percent natural is very difficult to achieve. For us, it’s more about if we are able to achieve what we want create with natural ingredients. We are not militant with other brands that create with only synthetics, but we believe so strongly that when you hold the sculpture and smell the fragrance, you really appreciate the difference. That’s the important thing.

Five of our seven fragrances are a hundred percent natural. Two of them are like 90 percent, it’s just a few synthetics that we needed to add to fixate an ingredient. For us it's about creating quality products. It’s also in the way that the packaging is made. The sculpture, the artistic qualities and all the details together create a product that is as unique and as special as possible.

Obviously each scent is completely different, but what is the underlying theme in the fragrances that you create?

Very much connected to the AGONIST fragrance experience is that it always includes several dimensions. We try to find a complex composition that changes all the time, that is definitely very unique in our fragrances. We want to tell a really strong story with every fragrance that we create and that is also told in the composition.

For example for ISIS, the new fragrance that we just launched, our idea was based on the exact moment when winter ends and spring begins, that energy exploding when new life begins. It’s also based on a poem by Karin Boye. That’s why we wanted to have this fresh top where you have a really distinct new energy, but at the same time you still have the history, so it’s quite deep in the base.

When you feel it the first time you get this mandarin, tangerine, ginger kind of top. We really wanted a shock in the beginning, so it’s quite fresh and then after a while it gets more sweet with notes of anis and a bit of caramel. In the base you have amber, vanilla and some deep musk. So you have the fresh beginning, the kind of sweet body and the base of low tones and dark depth. That’s very similar in all of our fragrances: they start off very clear and direct and then give you something else in their depth. They always change in a very interesting way, all the fragrances are really telling a story in the way that they are layered.

One of the things about a great fragrance is when it develops like a story on the skin. You can end up somewhere completely different than from where you started.

Exactly, that’s also something we try to look for. When we create a fragrance we do trials for a long time because we need to evaluate all the evolvements of the scent, how they grow on you and how they react throughout time. When we are satisfied, we know that we can guarantee quite a unique experience.

You recently did an installation at UNSCENT in Milan. What made you decide on that artistic form of presenting your fragrances and how did the whole installation come about?

We try to create a 360 degree experience. We want express the fragrance in as many dimensions as we possibly can, that’s really our art and what we love to do. We try to create things that resemble the vision that we have inside our heads.

AGONIST comes from an artistic background. When we started we were more in galleries and art exhibitions, collectors bought our sculptures and we did a lot of limited editions. We put a lot of effort into the way that we give life and shape to the fragrances, and the experience that we want to give to people.

The idea for the ISIS was based on the exact moment where the plants are bursting and blossoming. We created this tension inside the glass bottles so that they were cracking during the installation. Then we wanted to add this audio experience, so we had a frequency playing in loop, as well as these recordings of the glass breaking.

It was really intense if you had the fragrance in your nose, the sound in your ears and this visual installation. We wanted to create something that encapsulated the fragrance with all the senses. I think to create this art installation with fragrance in this olfactive experience is a beautiful dimension, suddenly your memories connect with the people who experience it. It’s really fun to create more than just a fragrance.

Your brand is comprised of a sculpture line and a more affordable spray line. How you see this idea of balancing the artistic and commercial aspects of your work?

We enjoy the idea of the haute couture and pret-a-porter version, just like in fashion. The sculpture piece is the mothership of the fragrance where the scent comes to life. We had always planned for a way to have people experience the fragrances and not have to buy these really expensive sculptures. It took us a lot of time to figure out how to create this balance.

When we finally came up with the concept of our spray line, we created these bottles which are colour-coded to connect with each sculpture. When stores are presenting AGONIST they usually have the sculptures and the spray line, so you see and experience the whole brand. If you are in love with the bottle of the fragrances, you perhaps buy the spray and then after a while gather some money and get the sculpture because you want it as an art piece. We have different customers relating differently to it. 

What are your future plans for the brand?

The future of Agonist is to keep on working with fragrance as a starting point for artistic expression. We’re also exploring other materials and ways to distribute the fragrances. We will launch one more fragrance in the autumn of this year, which we’re working on now. I can’t really tell you much about it yet, but I will say its not as fresh as ISIS, it’s going down another type of route. We have some projects going on beside that, which will perhaps be launched later this year or at the beginning of next year. We’re working on different ideas on how to expand the collection and the story.



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1 Granary for Twin Magazine blog

Central Saint Martins boasts a reputation as one of the world's most prestigious art schools. Now a group of its students have launched a biannual print publication celebrating the university's exceptional talents, entitled 1 Granary.
Founded and edited by Olya Kuryshchuk, the debut issue features alumni such as Katie Grand, Robin Derrick, Kate Phelan and John Galliano, as well as the most exciting new talent currently studying at CSM's King's Cross campus.
Twin spoke to associate editor Greg French about the magazine's inception, vision and future. Read on for the exclusive interview…
Central Saint Martins has had a longstanding reputation and legacy. In the age of digital publishing and university spending cuts, what made it important to do this magazine now?
I think it's incredibly important to be able to find a sense of permanent presence alongside digital publishing. There seems to be a constant conflict between digital and print, yet there needs to be more of an understanding that both can support and be used alongside each other to push concepts further than previously possible. It seemed important as it's a new beginning for the college in its new premises. We really wanted something physical to sit alongside our site, as a milestone for this great turning point in the college's history.
What ethos lies at the heart of 1 Granary?
At the heart of magazine are unity and hard w
ork, not only in terms of the amount of work that we put into establishing 1 Granary, but also in the level of craftsmanship that is put into each garment, artwork and editorial content that we show. It's about showcasing all the amazing talent and saying that it is possible and achievable, regardless of what is or isn't happening in the education system or the economy.
How would you describe the process of putting together the debut issue, were there any surprises or directional changes?
It was actually really liberating. I've worked on magazines before, but this was the first thing that wasn't bound to anything. We didn't answer to anyone and that gave us a platform to experiment, try new things and do it completely in the way that we wanted. We have an amazing team and had so much fun putting it all together. It was exhausting at times as we were all juggling internships, jobs and college work, but at the same time it was our way of resting because we loved doing it so much.
What can we expect for Issue No. 2?
It's still very much in its early stages, but the main thing you can expect is a continuing debut of really great, fresh, raw talent and a team that isn't afraid to take risks.
1 Granary Issue #1 is available to pre-order here and hits newstands on May 20.

Read the full article here.

Bernstock Speirs Discuss DIY Punk Culture and Three Decades of Design for A Shaded View on Fashion

Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,

Bernstock Speirs (one part Paul Bernstock, one part Thelma Speirs) have been creating their well-crafted yet whimsical headwear for over three decades. Especially known for their veiled beanies and bunny ear baseball caps, the two designers have become so well-versed in working as a duo that they even finish each other's sentences.

In the comfort of their Brick Lane flagship store and design studio, Bernstock and Speirs discussed their latest menswear collection, 'accidental' foray into the world of millinery and the evolution of the fashion industry.

What was the inspiration behind your most recent men’s collection?

Paul Bernstock: Last year was our 30th anniversary and we did an exhibition showing work we’d done from the 80s. Some things really came from that actually, didn’t they?

Thelma Speirs: Yes, it felt right again. Our millinery is also inspired by elements of traditional menswear and turning those clothing aspects into a hat. 

P:  We did some thick knits with satin which were like quilted flying jackets. So quite often, we work differently from other milliners whose work tends to be more sculptural and fanciful. We studied fashion design and have always seen our designs in relation to fashion. A lot of the techniques we do are more clothing techniques than millinery techniques.

When it comes to your designs like the baseball cap with bunny ears, are those creations about not taking fashion too seriously or just going all across the board with your brand?

P: We don’t do occasion hats, it’s about being relevant to seasonal stuff that is going on and although we do have a range of customers, our brand is quite youthful.

T: Hats aren’t really that serious anymore, are they? 

P: If you start going to the more serious side, then you get into the big glamour thing. We never felt like we wanted to do that, it doesn’t excite us.

T: The bunny cap is a prime example of ours because it does have a function, but it’s kind of funny. You could wear it for an occasion but you could wear it to the corner shop, it’s utility-like.

P: We’ve always been interested in utility clothing, the detailing, that there’s a functionality and something integral about the design — it’s not just about being decorative. We more often take things away rather than add, because we like it to be the...

T: Bare essence. 

P: The simplest, barest version of what it can be.

T: Bunny ears of course are essential [laughs].

P: The bunny ears came from a collaboration with Peter Jensen, whom we’ve worked with for quite a long time.

T: In 2009 we did the first bunny cap. We really liked it but didn’t think it would take off because it’s so humourous, yet we sold loads of them.

P: Sometimes with those things it’s hard to know. It’s a fine line between people thinking it’s a joke shop kind of thing and getting it right.

T: But you get it right through the quality. It looks serious in the way that it’s made.

You’ve done a lot of designer collaborations. What is the process like of already working as a duo and then bringing another person into that equation?

T: It’s really good because you can throw in other ideas. The person can have ideas that can inspire you so much. We like to work with people that have a similar aesthetic, people like Peter are a primary example because his clothes are lighthearted but of a really good quality. We fit well together.

P: It can also be weirdly isolating working in fashion where usually everyone keeps their collection a secret until it’s shown, but that’s the nice thing about doing collaborations, apart from the fact that we also found really good friendships through them. It’s that support aspect as well, fashion is a tough business and obviously really competitive, but actually, you can get a lot from just having that working relationship. You share a lot of things, help each other and ask each other for advice. 

How do you two compliment each other in the design process?

T:  Paul is a really good maker of things, so he can figure out the technique. I’m quite good at editing things after Paul has worked them out.

P: Thelma is quite good at saying no when I’ve made something [both laugh]. No, Thelma is really good at editing which is something that doesn’t come naturally to me. Editing is a really difficult one to learn because your first instinct is always to show more so that there’s a chance that people are going to like it more.

T: When the collection starts we just talk about ideas or fabrics and then it all comes from random discussions. We don’t do a mood board. 

P: The fact is that we work together every day, do a lot of social things and travelling together, plus live in the same house, so we see a lot references together.

During the 31 years that you have been a part of this business, how do you think has millinery changed from being something classical to more daring and humourous?

P: We started doing hats because we wanted to create something together, it was quite accidental. We found a pile of old straws, sprayed them with car spray paint and it just happened from there. There was also a nightclub movement going on. Our generation wasn’t able to find the clothes that they wanted in shops, there was not much going on fashion-wise. A lot of it was people coming from art schools with not much money because the country was coming out of the recession, so it was hard times and people were customising and making their own stuff. The first time around it partly came from that, the fact that people were wearing hats in clubs as part of dressing up. That is what has started happening again on the club scene in that last 7 or 8 years.

T: In the early eighties it was definitely coming from the punk ethic of doing your own thing. The energy was in London. 

P: There were no support systems like NewGen around then. There were no possibilities of getting sponsorship deals, it just didn’t exist. It was about somehow doing it yourself and calling in the help of friends.

T: People did shows and didn’t pay the models or people to do the hair and makeup, they were trying to do it themselves. 

P: In some way, I think the support thing is slightly a poisoned chalice.

T: You get scared to get out of it. In the end you’re getting sponsorship and doing these shows, but at some time you’re not going to have that support forever. It’s really expensive doing a show, not many people in the London gang can do it without that extra help.

P: It’s a difficult one, isn’t it? On the face of it, it should be good.

T: It’s because there are new people coming out all the time and they want support. 

P: It’s scary, there’s so much product now across everything, that feels like a big difference. The first time around when we started doing it, we got invited to this big showcase in New York by Susanne Bartsch. She took a load of people over and basically all the American stores started buying us all and coming to London to buy because it was exciting and interesting, but also there wasn’t as much stuff available back then, whereas now it’s really tough. There’s much more happening in the U.S., a lot more homegrown talent and the bigger labels cover all the bases, from the main line to the diffusion lines and accessories.

T: Then there’s the celebrity thing which wasn’t around then. 

The internet wasn’t around then as well.

P: Obviously the internet has a big part to play. Maybe things have changed since the recession but everything is available and attainable, even if only through credit, you can still buy it. When we were growing up, things weren’t as accessible. You had this desire for things which weren’t that available so you did something of your own. Everything has become so easy to get and throw away.

T: And easy to find out.

P: When we were at college we would go to Paris and try to get into the runway shows, it was amazing because you wouldn’t be able to see those images otherwise. We would also read Suzy Menkes’ reviews.

T: She only did about three pictures.

P: That was the only way to get that information, but it made it more... 

T: Exciting. But things can’t go back. Tom Ford really tried to make that happen for him by not letting any photographers into the show but it’s like going back culturally for everyone. People just ignored it a bit. I can see what he was trying to do, but I don’t think it worked.

Having had a big anniversary recently, what are you looking forward to in the next decades to come?

P: First up, we’re doing a talk at the V&A in the summer.

T: Last year we spent a lot of energy on doing our retrospective. We’re hoping we can reap the rewards and carry on.

P: Our veil beanie seems to have had another take off, so we’ve got a lot happening from that and started selling to a lot of new shops. But we want to keep it niche and special.

T: We don’t want huge shops or loads of staff, we’re really happy to keep it quite small.

That is something about hats in general, you don’t buy them in the same way that you would a pair of jeans, it’s a really considered thing.

T: It is, isn’t it?

P: It’s funny because trends take a long time. We actually stopped doing hats in the early nineties and had a break because we always saw them sitting alongside fashion. Then suddenly everything changed.

T: Because of the web.

P: But it’s also a confidence thing. People are getting used to wearing them and it being a part of their wardrobe, whereas for quite a long time they didn’t think about it. Obviously for cold weather there was that protection aspect, but it is gathering momentum and feels like more and more people are doing them. Also going back to that desirability thing, I think that there’s a longing for things which are more specialised and feel like more craft and care has gone into them. People are getting that more and more. 

T: They also want it to be more individual.

P: And of quality. In terms of our label, it was always important that it was made in England because we don’t just want to send it somewhere. It’s about quality control and making things that have a lasting value.



Read the full article here.

Richard Nicoll on Second Album Syndrome and His Admiration for Mavericks for A Shaded View on Fashion

Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,

It's only been Richard Nicoll's second season in the arena of menswear, but already the designer has carved out his own niche of slick urbanite dressing.

As with his offerings for womenswear, there is a geometric precision and understated elegance to his creations, but the same time Nicoll isn't afraid to push his customer towards neon pops of colour and Pollock-esque prints — the fashion equivalent of yin and yang, if you will.

In the following interview, the ANDAM award winner talks about the shock factor of simplicity, London's sophmore men's fashion week and his own personal style icons.

How is this season's inspiration, "no-wave, reduction and industrial essential”, mirrored in the tailoring, colours and textures of the collection? 

I was inspired by the rebellious spirit of brutally simple, classical pieces, conservatism and youth, and shocking simplicity.

Between the paint splatter, metallic pieces and bursts of orange colour for AW13, how important do you think it is for men to venture outside of their often conservatively-styled comfort zone?

I think it's good to offer an alternative, as men's fashion is about conservatism mixed with more rebellious pieces.

Having debuted with the first official London menswear fashion week, what was the atmosphere like this time around? 

This time it was even more successful, the line-up was strong and sexy. I think the second album syndrome could have happened, but actually I think London offered a hit second single instead.

What kind of man do you see wearing your clothes?

I think my clothes suit different types — there's something for everyone. I think they are quite versatile in that respect.

Having originally started out as a menswear student at CSM, what are the things that you enjoy about creating menswear which you can't find in womenswear?

I enjoy how straightforward men's ranges are. Women's collections are a much more complicated formula, plus I love making things that I can wear too, obviously.

Who are your own personal icons of male style? 

David Byrne, Morrissey, Michael Clarke, John Waters, Juergen Teller and Nick Cave because they are all mavericks.

How have you found the transition from womenswear into this area of design? 

It has been liberating, clarifying and creatively fulfilling.

In which direction do you hope to take your line in the future? 

I want to keep things going in the same, but simultaneously different direction.



Read the full article here.

Alex Mattsson Discusses the Politics of Fashion for A Shaded View on Fashion

Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,

London may boast a diverse range of young menswear talent, but one leading the pack is Alex Mattsson. Alongside being featured in projects such as Selfridges Bright Young Things and Red Bull Catwalk Studio, his collections have been covered by the likes of i-D, Vice and Dazed Digital.

Inspired by themes ranging from science fiction to black metal music, the Oslo-born designer and RCA graduate continually evolves the use of material, cut and print in his designs whilst still maintaining his trademark of standout and attitude-filled menswear. Mattsson sat down after the showing of his collection Chuco 2.0 to explain his design process, the allure of London youth culture and plans of building an empire.

Your A/W 13 collection is influenced by Latino migration to California and biker clubs. Do you think it is important for fashion to have political undertones?

Fashion to me is about dreaming and pretending, not conveying political messages. I see my chosen influences simply as a way to inspire myself.

During the design process, what comes first in your mind: the silhouette, prints, colour, or something else?

The attitude and research of the collection-to-be is constantly distilling in my mind. Once I sit down to design, I have a couple of garments in mind that represent the collection. The rest of the collection seems to spawn from these initial illustrations. Silhouette and cut are normally the first things I establish.

What about London as a city do you find inspiring?

London has everything you could ever want! Except nice weather. The youth culture here is so vibrant and fun. The fashion scene is experimental, fresh and inspiring. London also has the infrastructure to nurture young talent with platforms such as Fashion East, NewGen and Red Bull Catwalk Studios. That is important.

You noted that music plays a major part in your work. Which artists are you listening to at the moment?

The moods that music creates really influence my work. It can paint images of shapes, colours and textures in mind that I translate into my designs. Hip-hop and reggae/dub are my main interests at the moment. My iTunes playlist includes 'Snoop Lion's' new reggae stuff, Brooke Candy, Kendrick Lamar, A$AP and of course Zebra Katz. Having the opportunity to work with Red Bull Catwalk Studio is a huge privilege as it focuses on the relationship between fashion and music and supports young talent in both art forms.

Who would you love to see in your designs?

I love seeing anybody wearing my stuff! It's a great feeling. If I had to choose someone famous, it would be Snoop Dogg.

What side projects have you been working on lately?

I recently created an exclusive T-shirt range for Machine-A's store launch on Brewer Street in Soho. 

What is the biggest challenge of working in this industry?

Apart from the standard challenges every young designer faces, I find the politics of the fashion industry quite exhausting. I try to distance myself from it and continue to do what I love.

How would you hope to see your label develop in the future?

I would obviously love to see my label grow and prosper, as well as branch out in to womenswear and open my own stores. I want to build an empire and live the dream basically!



Read the full article here.