AW22 "Art of Noise"
AW22 all began with a documentary, Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell. Russell was a perfectionist and a pioneer, but it was the extent of his dedication that truly inspired me. He transformed his life to allow him to create music constantly. His methods were various and experimental; creating spaces for people to play, trying out with different bands, and at times subsequently clashing with them.
Russell passed away from AIDS related illness in 1992, his enormous body of work preserved across an archive of over 1000 tapes. Towards the end of the documentary his surviving partner Tom Lee talks about archiving and curating many of his works. How Arthur would write music daily, capturing both the mundane details of the everyday and sublime feelings of love and elation alike. He commented that when Arthur passed, it seemed that his soul transferred into all of the tapes he created... that he became music itself.
In order to translate research into something that and my team and I could use to design clothing and characters, I settled on thinking about music in three parts.
‘The Physical’ is a literal approach, informed by cubist artists like Picasso and George Braque, as well as Claes Oldenburg and his soft sculptures. Referencing the shapes of the instruments themselves, transposing them onto garments and creating textiles.
‘The Cultural’ considers musicians as personalities and the styles associated with them, zeroing in on New York in the late 70s/early 80s. No Wave had become popular, bringing with it the idea that you didn’t need an instrument to be able to play in a band, and that creating a jarring sound was better than creating something melodic. I listened to Lydia Lunch, MARS, DNA, James Chance, and the Contortions, and as I listened I also tapped into a part of myself.
‘The Emotional’ examines the way music makes us feel inside and explores how that could be interpreted visually. We looked at Anthony Gormley’s ‘Feeling Material’ drawings, and imagined that the bodies surrounded by crazy lines were turning into music. Inspired by the illusions of Op Art, we explored graphics and new forms of cutting. Can we trick the eye to provoke the emotional response of hearing our favourite song?
The creative process is one which I guard very fiercely. As our business is expanding and becoming more secure, we’re experiencing the tough but necessary growing pains of balancing creativity with commerce. My team came up with a strategy that allowed us to enjoy creating the ranges in harmony with one another.
Thanks to our investment with Tomorrow, we made three new additions to the team for this collection. Our new womenswear designer Ru Kwok, product developer Sophia Cook Browne and Head of Operations Diani Diaz are all playful bold and funny, and work brilliantly together with menswear designer Daniel Rozsahegyi, fabrics and sourcing designer Christopher Goodman, and product director Naomi Ingleby. As a design team, we set out and scoured special pieces from our favourite collaborator Mr Steven Phillip, a fellow Scotsman and music lover whom I personally enjoy long chats with about the creative process, clothes and the people who wore them. As usual we had to tackle the question of how to present the project.
Last season was a ferocious and joyful return to doing something live. This time around, I wanted to reduce everything down, and focus on the design of the product rather than the spectacle of the show.
As well as telling the story through photographs and film, our artist in residence Rory Mullen has created a set for a 70s NYC inspired ‘happening’–equal parts curated and chaotic.
In lieu of a show, LOVERBOY is making music. Myself and my friends Tom Furse (from my all-time favourite band The Horrors) and Robert Fox (video and spoken word artist) are creating an album that is born from the story of this collection. The printed vinyl will drop in June at the same time as the collection lands in stores, allowing our audience another layer through which to experience the collection. I’m excited to broaden our scope, add another string to our bow and exist in a new space. Music has always had such a profound effect on me, it only feels appropriate to start creating some myself.
Location Somerset House
Words by Charles Jeffrey