The menswear designer and former Kylie stylist tells Graeme Moran why he’s in a menacing mood for autumn 12.
How did being part of the Newgen and MAN initiatives help you as an emerging designer?
It was definitely a key element of turning my ideas into a business. I think these platforms are great but I’m not a big believer in spoon-feeding people. If your work is interesting and has a point of view you can find other ways of getting it out there. The opportunity of showing at London Fashion Week is rare and exciting but it’s how to take it somewhere else that’s important.
What else do you think the industry can do to support up-and-coming designers?
Syncing the shows and the exposure with the buyers is the most important thing missing; also help with factories and production. That said, we’ve had to learn the hard way and I don’t think that does anyone any harm. London has also changed. There are so few exciting stores and buyers wanting to take risks. It’s a shame London’s retail scene no longer lives up to the creativity in the rest of the city.
You’ve previously worked with Savile Row tailor Richard James, stylist Judy Blame and Kylie Minogue – how did they influence you?
Styling Kylie was never really my kind of thing but I did learn so much; the deadlines, the working with different people, the constant sourcing of things and just finding a way to get it done.
I also got to work with Helmut Lang, Bodymap and loads of other great teams. It made me see what was achievable.
What can we expect from your autumn 12 collection?
I’ve been watching lots of Derek Jarman films, and listening to a lot of Sinéad O’Connor, but I’m not sure if any of that will transfer. I think I want the collection to be heavier and I also want a touch of menace. I was looking through old books and found a Batman comic, The Killing Joke. I’d totally forgotten how into it I used to be and how dark it was, so there may be touches of that.
How is the collection coming along?
We are starting to get samples back and I think it will be good, there are some nice ideas for the accessories and we are working on a new footwear project with a really nice brand, I’m really looking forward to seeing the first samples of those. As always there’s lots to do, I’ve pulled out of a few consultancies this season to give more time to the mainline and the show. It’s very easy to be distracted by the sound of money and other projects.
You recently created your first womenswear piece for Lulu & Co (the brand collaborates with young designers) – why did you decide to do this?
I did it because Lulu [Kennedy, the brand’s owner] kept nagging me. The first piece we did was the best-seller of the season, which was a bit of a surprise. It’s been nice to try womenswear in a protected way and we are talking about doing a women’s line, just a few pieces. Not for the moment though – maybe next season.
You’ve collaborated with brands such as Eastpak, Reebok and Levi’s – are collaborations important for up-and-coming designers?
Not really. I say no to a lot more than I say yes to, mainly to do with time but also I don’t want to be putting projects out there all the time. Although maybe it’s fine to stick your brand name on a few toasters if you are really stuck for rent; people do worse things I suppose.
- Christopher Shannon is a menswear designer
Who are your three favourite designers?
For sticking to their guns Martin Margiela (pictured), Helmut Lang, and Balenciaga. I love that sense of modernity and lack of compromise in all three.
Who are the new menswear names we should watch out for?
I really love Martine Rose [pictured]. Craig Green, who will show his MA collection next month, is also incredible. Both do such personal work.
Whose style do you admire and why?
I’ve always been prone to a bit of Beastie Boys; also Neneh Cherry, and the director Chris Cunningham. I can’t stand people trying too hard.
What is the favourite piece you’ve ever designed?
I loathe most of them, although I think that’s healthy! I like them when I do them but I’m not one for looking back to see how clever I was, I’m always thinking I need to be better.
What was the last item of clothing you bought?
I was in the Coniston Water in the Lakes last week and I bought a walking jacket with a removable fleece. Was very excited at the time but it’s transfer to London hasn’t been a success.