From luxury to more affordable day-to-night wear, American fashion in its endless incarnations is being reinvented and renewed by a wave of influential young designers. From inventive interpretations on great American sportswear and traditionalist attire in line with houses Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Brooks Brothers to innovative European-inspired craftsmanship and detailing, award-winning labels are breaking away from conservative and commercial conventions by conceiving designs with a global perspective. Band of Outsiders and Boy, the LA-based mens and womenswear labels by Scott Sternberg have won a celebrity following for their unique spin on impeccably crafted preppy chic, Korean-born and New Jersey-raised Doo-Ri Chung has invested draped jersey with sophistication through her label Doo.Ri, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim have fashion following new rules with their multifaceted company Opening Ceremony and New York labels Ohne Titel by Alexa Adams and Flora Gill, and Philip Lim 3.1 by Philip Lim, have become known for their unique take on modern luxury. Meet the Young Americans shaking up world fashion, writes Indigo Clarke.
In scarce moments of sunlight on a rainy London morning, politically punchy dance-hall maestro Maya Arulpragasam - better known by her moniker, M.I.A - struts the construction-prone East End streets in hyper-colour sequins and stilettos, attracting catcalls at every turn. Pouting and shimmying, even performing impromptu pole dancing on street-posts, the girl’s every bit as razzle-dazzle as her bold and brash fashion style. Catching up with long-time friend and fashion inspiration Ashish Gupta, the renowned London-based designer whose outfits she’s sporting on her current world tour, M.I.A settles down for a chat - while happily rifling through bags of the designer's bright, bold and heavily-embellished creations. Talking PlayStation, Bollywood, hologram leggings and other weird and wonderful obsessions, the fun and feisty M.I.A and fashion-forward Ashish get to know each other all over again. Indigo Clarke
In the tradition of cinema’s blonde bombshells, Hollywood’s favourite ingénue has taken on the music world with a debut album covering Tom Waits’ cult classics. Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe found success crossing cinema and song, how will Scarlett Johansson fare? Indigo Clarke writes.
Consummate British designer, icon, and political activist Katherine Hamnett had fame, fortune and the fashion world under her thumb – only to risk it all by challenging the industry and championing controversial environmental and human rights causes. A fashion superstar of the 80s, Hamnett conceived some of the most plagiarised designs of the decade including her famed politically driven slogan t-shirts – one of which was the ubiquitous ‘Choose Life’ tee which spawned countless imitations, one worn by Wham! in their ‘Wake me up before you go go’, clip.
Investing his poetic, sun-drenched images with the friends, family, love and harmony that defines his way of life, award-winning photographer and artist, Mark Borthwick, has become one of the most influential photographers of his generation by following his own vision. Challenging the conventions of fashion photography with experimental images that convey an idiosyncratic humour and optimism, the Brooklyn-based, London-born avant-garde photographer, film-maker and musician Mark Borthwick, has over the past 15 years shot for magazines Purple, Self-service, i-D, Inteview and AnOther Magazine, as well as collaborating with, and shooting campaigns for Comme des Garcons, Martin Margiela, Yohji Yamamoto, Adidas, Nike and Vanessa Bruno. Recently, Borthwick has created films with Mike Mills, Chan Marshal (Cat Power) and Chloe Sevigny, while also regularly creating installations, drawings and texts for unconventional exhibitions that include musical performances, poetry readings and dinner parties. At home with his wife and two children (who are more often than not the subjects of his evocative photographs) in Brooklyn, New York, the multi-talented Mark Borthwick talks unfashionable fashion, his love of people and film versus digital with Indigo Clarke.
Taking audiences on absorbing tribal journeys, Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes draws crowds into a world of her own imaginings with feathered head-dresses and gold Inca-like flourishes in tow. Inspired by Halloween, darkness and dreams, emerald forests, moonbeams and midnight skies, the 27 year old multi-instrumentalist combines her wonders and whims to create hypnotic music that captivates endless fans including Bjork, Thom York and Jarvis Cocker. Recently nominated for the eminent Mercury Prize for her debut album, ‘Fur and Gold’, and having just returned home to the UK after extensive touring across the US, Natasha found a rare afternoon of leisure to talk with Indigo Clarke about the month of October, her birthday and all importantly, Halloween.
Offering a window into his deepest, darkest imaginings, New York based artist Simen Johan’s surreal images envisage reality as an eerily beautiful dream. Indigo Clarke
For those who thought anarchy in the UK was long gone, art director and set designer extraodinaire, Simon Costin, is proving absurdity and chaos to be the enduring backbone of British culture – a punk utopia indeed, writes Indigo Clarke
With thousands of suns mapping his dreams, Christopher Bucklow's luminous photographs use light to delve into something darker. Indigo Clarke
First lady of fashion, Diane von Furstenburg’s prodigious, albeit tumultuous, career spanning four decades is, despite a difficult economy, showing no signs of slowing down. An influential figure well beyond the limits of the fashion world, the 62 year-old industry icon (and non-feminist feminist) has cultivated a business not only in support of women, but operated by women. What a woman, writes Indigo Clarke.
Skipping, spinning and bounding on stage in multi-coloured lycra catsuits, Lovefoxxx is a rockstar pin-up like no other. Conquering crowds with childlike confidence, she sighs and screams then tumbles and surfs her way through the audience, all the while with an angelic smile – she’s punk attitude packaged as a lycra-clad doll. She’s the charismatic lead singer of Brazil’s Cansei de Ser Sexy (Portugese for ‘Tired of being sexy’), the art-school electro-pop outfit that started as a joke only to be snapped up by cult US label Sub Pop a year after forming. Currently on tour with Gwen Stefani (after playing internationally non-stop for the last 18 months), modeling for Luella Bartley’s Spring/Summer 08 collection for O’Neill and voted in the top ten cool list for NME – the world just can’t seem to get enough of the lovely Lovefoxxx. With the sweetest of smiles and love-heart tart in hand, Lovefoxxx murmurs sweet nothings about sweetheart Simon Taylor of UK’s beloved new-ravers, Klaxons – talking CSS, life and true love with Indigo Clarke as she prepares to play London’s Koko.
Involved in everything from design, film and music, to fashion, architecture and advertising, Swedish collective ACNE are an ever-expanding empire renowned for breaking divisions between art and industry – they also happen to make pretty nice jeans. Jonny Johansson, the creative mastermind behind ACNE’s comprehensive identity, let Indigo Clarke in on the consummate collective’s history and future.
New York’s neo-tribal, ritualistic and experimental ‘beat-makers’ are about to shock – and in the most not-at-all-shocking way possible. Gang Gang Dance, leaving their interminable improvised renditions of primal noise behind them for the moment, are now for the first time releasing an album of actual, tangible ‘songs’ – shock, horror indeed. Indigo Clarke writes.
Capturing the eerie remains of deserted office spaces, identities of phonesex operators, startling intensity of video gamers in action, and all manner of social fears, phobias and aspirations – Phillip Toledano is a wide-ranging artist known for posing at least as many questions as he answers through his absorbing photographic works. Wavering between a bare documentary approach and a flawlessly high-gloss, choreographed style, Toledano’s images can be intimately candid, exemplified by the ongoing ‘Days with my Father’ project, through to dramatic and fashion-photography inspired, evidenced by the arresting ‘Hope & Fear’ series.
If a silver lining can be attributed to the ever-deepening descent into a global economic meltdown, it’s that this crisis seems to have ignited the rebellious spirit of London’s most innovative designers. After a relatively safe, arguably conservative, vision for Spring/Summer 2007, London’s sartorial stars took LFW up a notch with brave and multi-faceted collections for the new season – renewing faith in fashion as a necessary diversion from reality. Fantasy and experimentation reigned at our favourite designers shows, from Richard Nicoll’s conceptual collaboration with iconic British artist Linder Sterling, Marios Schwab’s awe-inspiring 3D fare and Ann-Sofie Back’s literal response to horror and slasher flicks, to Ashish’s eccentric all-out sequin, animal print and colour assault, Basso&amp;Brooke’s wild tea party chic and Peter Jensen’s always covetable Scandinavia-quirk meets British-cool confections, London Fashion Week had it all, writes Indigo Clarke.
You never know where falling in love will take you. For history’s quixotic poets and artists it may have been the cause of eternal anguish, yet for love-struck Danish all-round avant-garde creative, Henrik Vibskov, it proved the catalyst for a dream fashion career. “There was a girl I fancied who planned to go to London’s Central St. Martin's to study fashion, and I just said, ‘yeah, me too,’” remembers Vibskov. “So I called St. Martins and got an interview appointment the next day, I prepared a file during the night, jumped on the plane, and got into the course… I also got the girl actually.”
Taking fashion into another dimension with dazzling astral prints across audacious garments fit for ‘intergalactic pirates’ and ‘apocalyptic rockabilly nomads’, London-based label Peter Pilotto is turning heads with a style all its own. Indigo Clarke writes.
Beginning as an outlet for “nihilistic-noise tendencies” for London’s transcendent drone slash melody makers, Fuck Buttons, soon became the realisation of an immersive and inimitable new sound. Throwing rhythm into their multi-layered noise-scapes, Fuck Buttons duo Andrew Hung and Benjamin Power transformed the cacophonous rumblings of their subconscious into euphonic bitter harmonies – brought to life through their endlessly-lauded debut album ‘Street Horrrsing’ and electric live performances across the globe.
With matching on-stage outfits, choreographed dance sequences and retro-electro sound existing somewhere between dance and indie pop, the charmingly kooky Metronomy three couldn’t help but become something of a UK sensation. Started by musical mastermind Joseph Mount (whose distinctive sound has seen him attract remix requests from international acts including Gorillaz, Kate Nash, Scissor Sisters, Klaxons and Franz Ferdinand), and soon joined by friend Gabriel Stabbing on bass and keyboards, and cousin Oscar Cash on keyboards and saxophone, Metronomy has managed to make experimental krautrock-style boppy, bleepy pop-electro accessible – no mean feat.
More akin to collectives of like-minded creatives than commercially-viable companies, many independent record labels work their fingers to the bone to unearth and champion prodigious musical talent for love – not money. Working with artists every step of the way from touring, recording and releasing albums, our favourite little labels seek out diamonds in the rough, often overlooked by the mainstream, and send them out into the big wide world to receptive audiences. With contracts bound not by legality but, “friendship,” in the case of cult UK events/record company and promoting only “music we love” according to Aus label Speak’n’Spell, artists we just couldn’t do without like inimitable French duo Kap Bambino, Canadian whirlwind Dandi Wind, UK rockers The Cazals, New Zealand’s Cut Off Your Hands and Brooklyn twoseome Matt&Kim are getting known. Peering beneath the surface, we look at the talent behind the scenes helping indie stars find the light – while still finding time to release compilation CDS, host killer parties and even DJ. Independent record labels make our music world go round, writes Indigo Clarke.