You’ve been integral to the development and design of The Fashion Archives, yet fashion isn’t your usual discipline. Share with us a bit about your background, and whether or not your perspective on fashion has changed as a result of working on this project.
I tend to simply follow my interests down whichever rabbit hole proves to be the most fascinating. I guess it’s pretty self-indulgent really, but then most creative pursuits need to be a little self-invested. I work across many fields, so I’m never really comfortable with a ‘discipline’ in the sense that it’s thrown around in an Arts context—rather I study and practice something until I feel it beginning to resolve and then usually get bored and move onto something unfamiliar or unpractised. I studied Fine Art, but never felt a burning desire to fully commit to that world professionally; it’s never something that I stray far away from, but there are other parts of me that want to be satiated—I enjoy mathematics, physics and software engineering, both creatively and intellectually.
I guess what I’m trying to express is that there’s a more measured way of looking at creativity, which encompasses more fields and ideas than a single medium or genre can define, and this is the idea that I try to practice. So fashion isn’t really any more peripheral than any other ‘discipline’, and there’s many things I already liked about fashion—it’s ephemeral and it’s made for people, so it’s already engaging with us on a social level, and it’s also quite optimistic, it allows us to change how we’re perceived—a second skin, which can make people happy even if they’re otherwise down and out. The Fashion Archives is inspiring because it brings together a range of people with many little focused passions, and their enthusiasm for that particular thing, or style, or craft isn’t tarnished by cynicism—it’s genuine. I think whichever art form you’re interested in that sort of genuine love is always going to engage and inspire.
What is your personal relationship to fashion – self-loathing, or self-expression?
I think my relationship to fashion has changed over time. When I was an undergraduate I wore clothes as a kind of uniform. I actually made a bunch of my own clothes (rather haphazardly), which was born out of a hatred for shopping (and the consumer idiom), some kind of do-it-yourself philosophy, and to some degree a level of self-expression. I didn’t want to spend too much time thinking about clothes, so making them myself was a sort of contradictory method of engaging with a wardrobe for a super saturated period, so that I could avoid making decisions about it later.
Now, I’m certainly a bit more relaxed, I still don’t like shopping, but I’m more aware of small independent retailers that make the task a bit more tolerable. I enjoy mood based colour and pattern, I’m far from flamboyant, but I do feel a bit more comfortable in my second skin.
I don’t care for trends and frankly most ‘style’ culture bores me senseless. All the commercial trivialities rub me the wrong way and the hype and marketing really seems a long way from what they are actually selling—sure there’s a social psychology to clothes and fashion, but the industry just seems mentally ill by comparison. You get the sense that they just want make us all an anxiety ridden mess, so they can present ‘the antidote’. That reality just seems stupid.
I’m a pretty aesthetic person, so I like looking at what people are wearing, even when it’s hideous. But when an outfit is flattering, whether elegant or outrageous, it just seems to amplify personality and lift the human spirit. That part is fun.
Where do you look for inspiration on matters of style?
Everywhere. It’s hard to avoid, we live in a pretty media saturated age. I collect picture books too, artists, designers, comic writers, illustrators, architects—past and present. I do return often to mid-twentieth century design… Charles and Ray Eames, Paul Rand, Saul Bass, there’s a bunch more… I’m always inspired by the boldness of colour, the amazing clarity of linework and the ability to really set a page alight and dazzle the eye. All of those folks had an incredible balance between vibrant inventive creativity and a very disciplined commercial practice.
What is your most treasured dress-related object or memory?
Devo’s multiple on-stage choreographed costume changes. I’ve always liked the band and their sensibility is part nonsense, part inspired thought. I like that they present a form of idiocy with integrity and that their uniformed costumes are designed to reflect that. Their early records came with all sorts of odd inserts, with explanations of their latest uniforms and the mindset that they were designed to create. All pretty ludicrous, but totally genuine. They also pretty well defined a geek punk cool, so I guess I’m in debt to them for that!
Give us three words, people or places you associate with Queensland fashion…
Thongs, sunnies, singlets.
Is there such a thing as a distinct Queensland style?
I doubt it, I think we appropriate style from the same sources as everywhere else, we just combine it in a climatically suitable way. The weather is a restriction, so we probably dress down a little more than our southern neighbours, but I think the added comfort is probably good for our attitude and means we can get away with a bit more vibrancy and a few soft flourishes. But I like the energy of Queensland style, whatever that is.
Published in Issue 9, on February 25, 2014.