The menswear designer tells Emily Norval about his fascination with human anatomy and his infamous skull bag.
You generated a lot of buzz at London Collections: Men (LCM) earlier this year - how was it?
For me it was a long time coming with a full ready-to-wear collection, so it was really exciting. I feel I managed to figure out a new format of how to present the collection. With LCM we were able to make bespoke [display] frames for each theme, which looked much more refined. We found the right space with the right tone and designed the lighting to look like it was a black-and-white world.
It was received really well.
Which stores bought into your autumn 13 collection?
We’re working with Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo, IT in Hong Kong, H Lorenzo in Los Angeles, Atelier in New York and Rail in Brescia, Italy. We haven’t made anyone buy the full collection as such, because everyone’s market is different. We’ve had a great relationship with Dover Street Market in the UK and we’re maintaining that exclusivity for now as there’s been a wait for this collection for six years and we want to uphold that demand.
What are the merits of static presentations versus catwalk presentations for you?
If you think of a catwalk presentation, the psychology of how the work is perceived by the audience is that they’re static and the work they’re seeing is active.
I want to subvert that and allow the audience to be active and much more in control of how they’re seeing and interacting with the work.
Your fascination with the human anatomy is well known - where does it come from?
I see clothing as a kind of problem solving - it’s how to create a 3D structure from 2D fabric. So I start with the body itself and see how to manipulate the fabrics and treatments to work ergonomically with it. I was always interested in the body before clothing.
I grew up with my mum learning to be a doctor, so I was surrounded with biology books.
What else inspires you?
Human anatomy and ergonomics has an effect on the shape and design of my clothing. I’m interested in invention and construction.
Your skull bag has become iconic - what inspired it and why do you think it appeals so much?
There’s a fascination when we see things reminiscent of ourselves. The symbology of the skull is important as it’s a reminder of our own death. The Latin notion of memento mori fascinates me. I used it as a launch piece as it was a challenge to start with the trickiest piece I’ve ever designed. Also, people have a preconceived idea of skulls in fashion. We’ve seen them so many times, they’re almost cheesy. If you can build integrity from something as culturally and historically charged as a skull, or do something new with something we’re almost ‘over’ at this point, you’ve succeeded.