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In celebration of sexy: Twin meets Amélie Pichard

10.11.2017 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Amélie Pichard celebrates sexy. Her shoe brand does too. Presented with her footwear, you meet a brand that has titillating sensuality at the core, partnered with the somewhat odd bedfellow of comfort – not necessarily a predictable alignment but refreshing nonetheless. Here is someone who is making a damn good stab at constructing the feeling of sexy, rather than simply the look of it. Aiming to exact empowerment and pleasure to women through artisanal technique and a certain retrograde sensibility, Amélie has opened her first shop, in the wake of her successful online business and a celebrated Pamela Anderson collaboration. Locking herself into bricks and mortar signals something new for the Parisian designer: cementing herself as part of the modern heritage of her city. Amélie wishes to be the female version of Hugh Hefner, to praise the natural sensuality of women. Her aim? To herald the woman: to celebrate sexy for the self.

AMÉLIE PICHARD / RECLUSE from BERTRAND LE PLUARD on Vimeo.

Who is the Amélie Pichard woman?

She is free. This is the very first thing to realise. My girls, the Pichard girls, know what they want, when they want. I don’t do things because there are rules – I don’t care about that. Pamela Anderson was my first muse: for me she is the perfect Pichard girl because she is complex, a woman, a mother, an activist, a girl boss: exactly what I love. I don’t like girls who don’t work. What​ ​does​ ​sexy​ ​mean​ ​to​ ​you? Sexy for me is everything. For me it is so important, but it must be a natural sexy – it’s not about clothes or makeup, it is about attitude. When I look at your shoes, it is like you are trying to change what sexy means, and twist how it is traditionally a male-dominated word. Your​ ​brand​ ​seems​ ​sexy​ ​for​ ​itself… Before, to be sexy, women wanted very high heels. For me it is the opposite, because if you cannot walk properly because of your shoes, you are not sexy. For me, women wearing trainers can be more sexy than women who can’t walk in their high heels. I do shoes for the girl who has her bicycle, who needs to go food shopping, who needs to live and work.

What​ ​type​ ​of​ ​atmosphere​ ​are​ ​you​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​create​ ​in​ ​your​ ​new​ ​shop?

In my shop, it is a lot of things, because I am obsessed with Hugh Hefner – I want to be the female version! I want the most beautiful guys working in my shop, at the door of chez Pichard. I put a bed in the shop because I wanted to make a shop not just for shoes: a place where people can stay and live, chill, and the bed was the way of doing this. The shop is a mix of the 70’s and a bar tabac, because the French spirit is very casual, and I also love contrast. That is why the front of the shop is green, like the bars of Paris, while inside the first thing you see is a bed dressed in Pink, in varying textures.

Amelie Pichard basket bag

Amelie Pichard basket bag

In​ ​the​ ​wake​ ​of​ ​the​ ​passing​ ​of​ ​Hugh​ ​Hefner,​ ​what​ ​is​ ​your​ ​opinion​ ​of​ ​the​ ​image​ ​of​ ​the​ ​playboy​ ​bunny​ ​that​ ​he​ ​created?

Hugh Hefner made something crazy. He enjoyed sex, he enjoyed women, because women are the most beautiful things on the earth. I have a big collection of Playboy at my place – for me it is my favourite magazine.

Why​ ​were​ ​you​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​shoes​ ​in​ ​the​ ​first​ ​place​ ​as​ ​your​ ​medium​ ​of​ ​creativity?

I make shoes to tell stories. Before this, I was making clothes, but I felt a bit lost as it wasn’t very artisanal – I love artisanal creations more than fashion. I love the way you make something. One day, I discovered the last shoe factory of Paris, and I fell in love with what they were doing. I saw one of the workers working in an atmosphere of the smell of glue, of dust, making these tiny and delicate shoes, and I just thought this is so cool!

Amelie Pichard Rodéo Glitter Gold

Amelie Pichard Rodéo Glitter Gold

Who​ ​or​ ​what​ ​else​ ​are​ ​your​ ​inspirations?

It is always women of the past, who aren’t in our world anymore – they are from a time long gone so I can’t meet these women, I don’t know these women: it gives me simply fantasy, and everything starts with fantasy. Sometimes I just need to see an image – you know the movie Paris, Texas ? For five years I fantasised about this movie, despite having never seen it, just pictures – after that I designed a whole collection around the images I knew. For me it is all about fantasy, and telling a story I want to tell that is always between the past and the present. Once I have finished designing, shaped by the past, I will imagine the shoes on my friends who are modern and contemporary: if the shoes appear right then I am happy.

What​ ​was​ ​the​ ​last​ ​thing​ ​that​ ​made​ ​you​ ​excited?

The launch of the shop – it was crazy because we made a fête au village, so all the street was totally full! We partnered with the bar opposite us and had a Claude Francois impersonator perform.

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Alex Cameron

“Tender but brutal: exactly how I like a character to be.” Twin meets Alex Cameron

28.09.2017 | Blog , Music | BY:

One of the pleasures of seeing bands in small venues (when they’re good) is that you get to witness how much they enjoy playing with each other – which was certainly true of Alex Cameron and his gang on their most recent visit to London. In amongst a slick delivery of the latest album, Forced Witness, were plenty of banterful asides, whispered knowing eye catches and asides made while sweat poured and Stella Artois spilled.

Such synchronicity is hardly surprising given that frontman Alex and saxophonist / business partner Roy Molloy have known each other since they were 5, when Alex was sent round to play with Roy because he was lonely (– “don’t put that in” – sorry, Roy). That they wouldn’t tell me the name of the band they had when they were 17, or their worst lyrics, also speaks of a deep, artistic bond that means some ten years later, they’re more on it than ever.

Cameron himself likes character, starring on his first album cover ‘Jumping the Shark’ as a Scarface-esque bruiser. For Forced Witness the physical performance may have changed, but the album delves deep into various personalities and identites, unpacking as it does ideas around gender and specifically the ‘Alpha’ males of rock and roll, and the wide world beyond. And though while for the video of ‘Stranger’s Kiss’, a record that features Angel Olsen, Cameron and Jemima Kirke play with the nuances of gender of screen, the best and most surprising expositions are most definitely to be found in the lyrics.

Co-produced with Foxygen’s Johnathan Rado and recorded partly in Las Vegas (“a completely rational and sane place”) it’s a record to pay attention to.

Read Twin’s interview with Alex Cameron (guest starring Roy Malloy) below.

Where do you get ideas for your characters?

A lot of my ideas come from conversations with people. A lot of it is dialogue with people that I’m on the road with. Someone like Mclean Stevenson who is a photographer from Australian. I worked in a government legal office working with victims of corruption, so a lot of my process is to do with taking that skill of being an assistant to an investigator; what I is a breakdown or a study of a story that I’m interested in.

Alex Cameron

Alex Cameron

Do you have a favourite one?

On the new record I really like country figs. My car broke down on a highway, it was me and Roy and our two ex-girlfriends and we got towed. That whole song came from a conversation with a tow truck driver.

How do you come up with melodies to support to the character?

I just try and focus on whether or not it’s a good song. The melody is quite natural, I’m kind of drawn towards them. I’m more interested in the stories and the melodies, they come together after a while. You have to be patient, and I tend to let things happen over time.

Do you find yourself looking at people on the street and get a sound to them?

Um no, I wouldn’t say so. I’ve written songs on the bus before but that comes more from absentmindedness. I do a lot of song writing when I’m walking and when I’m on public transport.

Some people write very confessional lyrics and you choose to write through the lens of character, but how much of yourself do you put into it?

I’d  like to think that if you get a sense of moral awakening then that’s me trying to put some humanity into the characters, even if they are bastards or misguided. I wonder about the process of everyone having a bullshit detector, I’m fascinated by that. Some people have a strong edit before they speak and others just speak based on their emotions,without contemplating the fact that they’re an animal. So I think a lot of stories are just me wondering about certain circumstances, and I just try and let the characters take me to where they want to go. Often that’s somewhere decrepit because when I’m writing it feels like I’m writing a tiny world where someone can behave, that I’m not in control of; I’m just there. Part of it is just based on the flow of emotion and not so much trying to ruthlessly understand something and then examine it in retrospect.

Was music the most instinctive form of doing that to you?

Most of my song writing comes from words I’m constantly taking down; long sentences and utterances, lines, poems and things like that. Then I’ll find the ones with the right cadence and the right syncopation that fit with certain melodies I have recorded as well. I write short stories, but I felt that there was no way for me to access that industry. Some of my favourite authors have been more responsive to my records than they ever would be to a story.

What was it like starting out in Sydney?

Sydney was really hard. Not in a knocks way, but it’s not the place to write music with a sense of realness to it; it’s very much a paradise over there. I don’t think Sydney is the place where groundbreaking music happens. The only way for me to make a living was to leave. Sydney has been taken over by investor money, it’s corporate. It doesn’t has any nightlife. You’d have to go up against the laws and the corporations to really get a subculture going.

ENTER ROY MALLOY

Hello Roy. How did you meet Alex, and how did you get into the saxophone?

I met Alex because we went to stay at friend’s when I was kid, and that was two doors down from Al’s, so we lived next door to each other when we were 5 or 6. We met each other because his mother made him come and play with me because she thought that I was lonely. But I wasn’t lonely. Don’t print that I was lonely.

And the saxophone I came across because the school had a program where you could rent them, and  I thought Lisa Simpson was pretty cool so, that’s how it happened?

Have you ever been tempted by another instrument?

I guess between the ages of 16 – 25 I didn’t think that the saxophone was suitable for rock music so I was playing the bass guitar. Then 4 or 5 years ago we started doing this live thing with the horn, and it just came into it I guess.

So were you guys in bands together when you were younger?

Yeah we played in a band at the end of school –

What was it called?

(Inaudible shouts from Alex)

That’s a secret (laughs).

EXIT ROY MALLOY

Hey again Alex. I wanted to talk to you about the video for Stranger’s Kiss and the way in which you play around with binaries in it, and also in the album more widely. Do you think that music has a specifically female or male sound?

Well the whole record was kind of intentionally made with the intention of subverting those masculine qualities in pop rock music. And so when Jemima came with the idea with this video that also challenged that it was kind of natural and perfect.

The song was produced in a way that was really strong, but the lyrics suggest a lot of denial of weakness. I certainly view the record of being a direct challenge to those tropes of masculinity, those male-dominant forms of song. Like that song Jesse’s girl I always think is pretty interesting – it’s oestensibly a song about a woman but it’s actually a discussion between two men. It doesn’t even mention Jesse’s girl’s name.

Interestingly when Angel came into the studio and laid down her vocals it became really evident that she was the strong one in that world. So we made her the one that was really not giving a fuck about the breakup, so we made her tender but brutal – which is exactly how I like a character to be.

 Forced Witness is out now on Secretly Canadian.

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KrisKidd_2

Helping People Feel Beautiful: Twin meets Sequoia Ziff

03.08.2017 | Art , Culture | BY:

Born and raised in LA, photographer Sequoia Ziff has a magical way of merging fantasy and ultimate realness. Her photographs present human flaws in a complex light, holding in tension in a combination of vulnerability and spirit in striking, monochrome portraits. Ahead of her opening at Saatchi Gallery in London (where she is now based), Twin catches up with Sequoia to talk photography style and the magic of portraits.

How did you get started in photography and what’s your favourite camera to use?

I have known that I have wanted to be a photographer for as long as I can remember. It has always been my obsession.  I worked on shoots through high school, decided not to go to college and have been living for it since.  I am pretty low maintenance when it comes to gear, I found what works for me early on and have only made minor changes as my style has evolved.  I have always worked with Canons, I started on film and now tend to work with the same camera for every shoot, a Canon 5d Mark 3.

Why black in white over colour?

Taste. A lot of the time, it’s just what I think looks better. It removes a sense of time and place and keeps the focus on connecting with the subject. I do love colour though….in moderation.

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© Sequoia Ziff

Why portraiture?

I love people. Having your photo taken is a vulnerable process, and my job is to soul gaze all day long. That kind of vulnerability can be uncomfortable for people, and I enjoy helping people feel beautiful, just through the process of shooting them.

How did your style develop?

I have always been really specific in what I like aesthetically: old architecture, old movies, vintage clothes and a sense of timelessness. Anything that combines that with some haunted magical realism is always a bonus.

What is a good photograph to you?

One that makes you feel deep empathy and one that allows you to daydream.

© Sequoia Ziff

© Sequoia Ziff

Tell us about the worldwide tribe project. How did it come about?

I was the featured artist at Summit at Sea this year, the idea was to humanise the refugee crisis and dismantle the fear by bringing larger than life size portraits to the centre of the ship. I had known about the amazing work that Worldwide Tribe does and contacted them about partnering and ended up working with one of their partners on the ground in Greece documenting portraits and life in the camp. Excited that the show is coming to London next month, and will be featured at the Saatchi from August 9-31st.

Has Instagram helped or hindered the medium of photography?

Both. I think that social media is an amazing tool for photographers, and it has meant that upcoming generations are more invested and interested in photography than ever before. It’s made everyone a photographer. It means that as an artist, you are able to build a network and self promote to a much larger audience, and from anywhere in the world.

Synchronicity_6

© Sequoia Ziff

As a user of social media, I’m exposed to so many awesome artists that I may not have discovered without platforms like Instagram. That being said, I think that art often doesn’t have the intended impact that it would offscreen and in person. For me, social media is more of a business tool than an artistic one and the more time that  I spend off-screen,  the more present, inspired, and grounded I feel.

What are your plans for the rest of 2017?

Shooting as usual. Since moving from LA to London, I have been working a lot in the music industry,  so will continue to be shooting a bunch of album artwork and press shots for bands. 

Worldwide Tribe exhibition is at Saatchi Gallery London, August 9th – 31st 2017

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Weyes Blood © Katie Miller

‘If I had my way with clothes I would be mostly naked’: Twin meets Weyes Blood

26.06.2017 | Blog , Music | BY:

‘Y…O….L….O’ sings Natalie Mering in her wistful, luscious composition, ‘Generation Why’. The letters come so elliptically that you almost don’t piece the word together, especially as the sarcasm is delivered in angelic tones, packaged with fleeting guitars. Elsewhere on ‘Seven Words’ the same emotive voice offers a more morose, melancholic narrative. These two songs offer a survey of range of Natalie Mering’s (aka Weyes Blood) canon, and it’s no surprise that she’s considered to be one of America’s most exciting female artists. Whether she’s contributing to other records or delivering her own kind of ephemeral gospel, the music is rich, immersive and often sardonic  – the fact that she’s supporting Father John Misty on tour (and is regularly photographed by his wife, and Twin favourite Emma Tillman) seems a perfect fit.

Her third album, Front Row Seat To Earth is filled with West Coast meandering melodies which encompass personal stories and wider musings on the world. Sloppy listeners will find themselves caught off guard in the same way that attentive ones wait with anticipation to see where the lyrics will bend next. Either way, you’ll find yourself surprised and likely with a grin on your face. In the midst of touring, Twin caught up with the Californian singer to chat about the state of music, collaborating with Perfume Genius and the duality of performance.

In the last two years, there’s been a lot of talk about the rise of the 70’s singer-songwriter. Do you consider yourself to be part of this movement?

In some ways, but not entirely – I love music from all decades, all time periods. The 70’s thing is convenient because its definitely a convergence of a lot of different influences, it was a vibrant time that set the pace for the time we still live in now. I can associate with that aspect of it, but I don’t think of myself as 70s. 

What does a 70’s sound mean to you? What was magical about that era of recording?

Music started to expand into different micro genres, things were becoming less homogenised. That’s pretty magical. Also most people were recording to tape and collaborating with a lot of different, smart, creative people. Producers, players, arrangers. It was the hey day of money being thrown into interesting projects because mainstream music hadn’t been totally strangulated yet— big record labels were still taking risks and culturally we were discovering the future as we know it now.

How did you go about shaping the sound for your record? What specifically were you influenced by, and what were you listening to?

I was listening to a lot of Soft Machine and classical music — I wanted to make something epic but also personal… Chris Cohen had a really good ear for this concept, we used a very limited amount of microphones while recording and did a lot of things live to capture that feeling, make it all feel like it was recorded in the same sphere. I was also was listening to a lot of Weather Report which is a pretty strange non-sequitur – I have a tendency to listen to things that are very different from my own music while I’m creating.

There’s a strong visual element that runs through your cover and videos, do you think in ‘the digital age’ image has taken on a heightened significance for music?

Not necessarily — we’ve always been a civilisation driven by imagery. Things probably changed the most in the 80s when music videos become synonymous with artists – suddenly people had to look really good, seem young. I think now more than ever we’re less interested in innovative music, which makes the imagery seem more important. It’s like the music is an afterthought. Music has been congealed into a very specific “industry standard” that’s numbed peoples tastes a bit, made it a more narrow experience for the masses as a whole. 

In the album the emotional nuances are very powerful – do you have to access and inhabit the original emotions that you had when writing the songs when you’re performing them, or can you do it with a certain level of detachment?

I’ve learned to replace it with other emotions if I don’t want to conjure the old ghosts – I try to avoid detachment in an apathetic sense, but sometimes I do let go and stop thinking and just feel whats happening. That’s like detachment in the zen sense.

Your fashion sense is impeccable. Do you see your style as part of the Weyes Blood persona, or is it an expression as Natalie?

It’s a part of Weyes Blood— if I, as in Natalie, had my way with clothes I would be mostly naked or wearing huge swaths of fabric. I do like a good suit, its like a huge swath of monochrome fabric but organized a bit more. If it fits super well you can climb a mountain in a suit, live in a suit. Classic hobo.

And thinking more broadly about that potential duality – why did you want to work under a different name when putting out your own music?

I wanted it to be a different world. I’m not that much of a realist with my art – there’s a lot of fantasy and imagination involved, occupying an archetypal space, my lyrics are the most Natalie Mering thing about it all and I think that stands out just enough. It’s still not too late to release under my own name someday, but I’d rather just make films or do stand up comedy under my name. Those are more Natalie Mering things.

You have worked and toured with Perfume Genus. Tell us more what that collaboration means to you?

Mike is an incredible soul —  he carries very powerful and moving musical ideas that I feel a kindred spirit with. Singing with him is always an elating experience. I think we have the same knack for a certain kind of musical drama and vulnerability. He’s definitely been an inspiration to me.

Generally you’ve worked with a lot of exciting artists, who would you like to work with in the future?

I’d love to work with somebody who’s very different from me, see what that’s like. I’m first and foremost a really big fan of music, so there’s lots of people I can imagine working with. It’d be fun to dip into a top 40’s world or make a Nashville country record. Sky’s the limit.

What are your plans for the rest of the year, and what are you looking forward to?

I’m going to be touring with Father John Misty in the states, UK and Europe this fall – right now I’m writing my next record and cultivating a new sphere to take back into the studio with me for the next one. I am most looking forward to getting back in the studio and recording!

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charlene1_149

More Than Oh-Kaye: Twin Meets San Fermin’s Lead Vocalist

21.04.2017 | Music | BY:

Those who write about Charlene Kaye often describe her as “a powerhouse” and “a machine” and it’s easy to see why. In between enjoying a successful solo career that has seen her release two albums and an EP, Honey last year, she’s also a lead vocalist for San Fermin. The Hawaii-born, New-York based singer joined the 8 piece band in 2014, and has since been crucial in weaving dreamy vocals over undulating synths and punchy melodies. With the release of ‘Belong’, San Fermin’s third album, we caught up with Kaye to talk about performance, growing as a band and solo recording.

How did you guys come together as a band?

I joined the band when they were already a fully operational touring enterprise, in the middle of touring their debut album. Ellis and Allen had been friends since they were teenagers and found everyone else in New York, and found me through a mutual friend. 

This the band’s third album, how do you feel that you’ve grown and developed in terms of your sound? 

When I first joined the band, it was challenging to get away from the thought that I was replacing three absolutely phenomenal singers – I would align my singing style to theirs, as they had originated the versions that people had first fallen in love with. As the band has progressed, I’ve felt more comfortable contributing my own interpretation and personality into Ellis’s vision for the music – mainly stage diving whenever I can, you know.

This has been described as the most personal album to date, how does it feel to vocalise someone else’s experience? 

Even though it’s Ellis’s songwriting, it feels personal to me as well. There have been moments onstage where it’s occurred to me that certain songs oddly align with my life and what I’m going through at the time.

You’re also a solo musician – do you prefer recording and performing in a group or alone?

If it’s my own stuff, I’ll often record my vocals at home in my closet! But I hate performing solo. That’s probably why I love our live shows so much, it’s just a giant group freakout on stage, and at this point we’ve spent so many thousands of hours together that the energy of friendship on stage is so strong, possibly just as potent as the music itself.

What’s your favourite track on the album?

 I had an intensely emotional response to the song “Palisades” when Ellis first played me the demo – it describes this Lord of the Flies-like scenario where the glow of youth is preserved forever, everyone you love staying young forever – and I just found it unbearably sad and beautiful. That and Oceanica are probably my favorite two songs on the record.

What are your plans for the rest of 2017, and what are you looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to touring this record, and in the meantime I have a lot of new music of my own in the lab I’m excited to release.

Belong is out now.

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LS

Lady Skollie Doesn’t Play By Anybody’s rules

26.03.2017 | Art , Blog | BY:

South African artist Lady Skollie is a creative force to be reckoned with. Born in 1987 Lady Skollie (real name Laura Windvoge) is part of a new generation of artists in South Africa who are working within and against the digital sphere, and her work emanates a captivating and sensual energy across the range of mediums that she works with. Her most recent, and first solo, exhibition ‘Lust Politics’ at the Tyburn Gallery gave the city a riveting introduction to her provocative vision, and followed on from an acclaimed stint at Frieze last year. Twin caught up with Lady Skollie to talk working in South Africa, having a sense of humour and how women are going to lift each other up.

 Growing up, were you always inclined to express yourself visually? How did your aesthetic develop?

When I was about 4 the Zorro franchise was really taking off in South Africa. I crawled underneath my mum’s tables, beds, inside cupboards and covered everything’s underside with wax crayon Z’s – all in different sizes. I remember being terrified that my mother would realize. So I suppose I have always expressed myself visually. When I was younger I thought that to be an artist you needed to paint realistically, and then I understood that my mark making did not need to be mimetic to be respected or convey a message. I took inspiration from Khoisan drawings because of my own Khoisan culture – as a coloured South African, and my work just became hard, fast, fluid.

Where did the name Lady Skollie come from?

Lady Skollie, for me, has been a lesson in identity. I’ve always had these disparate elements of my personality. Not long ago I wore cute 1950s dresses and had ringlets. Although I looked like a lady, inside I felt this urge to rail against authority and challenge the norm. I would talk about sex and paint little dicks on people’s things. Lady Skollie was a performative thing; it was the space where these two things -masculinity and femininity – met.

 Your work is striking and honest, drawing on personal experience. When you started did you ever worry that it wouldn’t resonate with a wider audience?

No, this was never a worry really because I also draw on a range of socio-political issues, like rape, rape culture and plight of women, which are so prevalent within our wider society. They are issues which everyone, even those outside South Africa, should engage with.

It is time for people to feel uncomfortable, and for people to ask themselves very hard questions about how they relate to women, how they treat them, how they talk to them.

LS

Your most recent exhibition was called Lust Politics. Do you think there is always a relationship between the visceral and the political?

Yes, from Monica Lewinsky to Marilyn Monroe to politicians blocking any means for women to have a more equal life or even just reproductive rights. I think there has always been a love hate relationship between politics and lust.

The names of your work are as powerful as the pieces themselves, which comes first when you start to create?

Usually the writing comes first. The works come separately and then I edit and chop to make the writing and the work correlate more.

You’re wrestling with gender, sex and societal structures, why did you want to investigate these ideas in ink and crayon?

I like the tension between a granny-like medium like watercolour and the garish, crayon drawings of sex. Depicting something as visceral as sex with a medium as soft and delicate as watercolour and childlike crayon is thrilling.

Why do you want to use humour in your work?

In South Africa humour is often used a vehicle for social change. People don’t always want to listen if you are being serious. They would rather not listen to preaching and they don’t want to hear about rape stats, HIV stats, etc. I think in some ways I’m pretty funny, so I use humour as a way of unwrapping serious issues in a palatable way – so that people will actually start thinking about change.

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One of your pieces focusses on the ups and downs of competitive sisterhood. As you see it, how can women better enable each other?

Women need to engage with each other about issues; communication is key to a united front, and we need one. At the moment, I definitely feel part of a zeitgeist and movement, especially in South Africa, where women are speaking up against feminine debasement and subjugation. Whether we make a social commentary with watercolours or whether we post an online status – that is what I’m part of. 

How does Johannesburg influence your work?

J’burg pushes you to achieve things you might have only ever thought about; it’s a city that’s totally alive. My surroundings make a big impact on my work, and I think it’s important to address issues around gender and sexuality because Johannesburg, and South Africa in general, is rife with sexual assaults and abuse. Art is an accessible way to bring up the narrative and I think we need to talk about it more and more and more.

Is now an exciting time to be an artist in South Africa?

Being an artist in South Africa right now is very important and very exciting. Finally the international market is catching on, and it’s actually becoming a financially viable option. In J’burg there are a lot of new independent studios opening where people are reclaiming spaces, especially in Troyeville which was a huge centre of resistance during apartheid. Most of Troyeville is studios, huge buildings which were abandoned in the ‘70s and are now being taken over and are really cost-effective. People are now offering funded residencies. As a creative person it’s a real privilege to have a space to make, without the worries of having to generate a huge income to sustain it.

Lady-Skollie-Paw-Paw-print-2016-Watercolour-ink-crayon-on-Fabriano-70-x-50-cm-courtesy-the-artist-Tyburn-Gallery

What are your processes when working? Do you have a specific routine?

It’s difficult to say, because my process entirely varies; I don’t really have a specific routine when it comes to making work. However, usually I think about the image for a long time before making a single mark. Sometimes I write about the work before I create it, which allows me to have a context for it. I listen to a lot of hip hop in the studio; hip hop can take you places and it especially helps me with confidence. 

Who are the artists that inspire you?

I am totally inspired by Athi Patra Ruga’s ability to immerse you into his world without even trying. Also Robert Mapplethorpe, for his beautiful way of shocking and Mary Sibande for her sheer brilliance of identity dynamics.

What’s next for you? And what are you most excited about?

I prefer not to talk about ‘what’s next’. I am in the present; I’m hard, fast, now. I don’t play to anybody’s rules. I am a rebellious person!

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DenovembreSS17_1123

Keep on Moving: An Interview with Linus Ricard

17.01.2017 | Art , Fashion | BY:

Paris based, Swedish artist Linus Ricard uses film and photography to capture and explore the relationship between the human body and the space it occupies. By focussing on the ordinary, unseen moments of the everyday, Ricard invites audiences to re-examine their surroundings and their position within the environment. Twin caught up with Linus to find out more.

How did you get into photography?

Studying styling at the Marangoni in Milan I collaborated with photographers and quickly realised I wanted to hold the camera.I still loved the clothes but the magic and interaction with the subject was stronger.

Your photographs & films are pre-occupied with movement – what is it about motion that interests you?

Motion creates emotion. My first, unanswered, teenage love was with a dancer. I used to go watch all her performances. She completely rejected me but my love for dance and movement stayed.

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What’s your process when you’re working?

I keep the subject moving, I love to catch that in-between moment, that you can never pose or control.

Do you have a favourite photograph, that you’ve taken?

No, it tends to be more and more about the process than the result, enjoying the moment and the making.

What are your influences?

Anything. At the moment I’m into going for long walks, I find it very inspiring and zen. I think Kierkegaard was onto something – “If one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”

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Elliss’ Unconscious Clothing For Natural Women

24.11.2016 | Fashion | BY:

ELLISS is an exciting new brand that was founded earlier this year by young designer Elliss Solomon. Elliss’ first collection, entitled ‘Unconscious Clothing’, features flattering, contemporary designs, often emblazoned with bold prints, while staying true to the brand’s sustainable ethos. Elliss designs and makes the clothes in the UK to maintain a low carbon footprint, and only uses sustainable organic materials like cotton, hemp and bamboo. We spoke to Elliss about her inspiration behind the brand and the challenges of starting up her own fashion line.

What made you want to become a fashion designer?

I always knew that I wanted to do something creative and decided early that I wanted to study fashion at Central St Martins, which is where I ended up. I used to be very experimental with my outfits. I now dress quite simply and I am more conscious of the small details. That is where the design aesthetic for ELLISS has stemmed from.

Can you tell us a little bit about your vision behind the brand?

I design individual pieces that are beautiful, unusual and easy to wear: clothes that have a story. I am conscious of every step of the process – from how the garment will make you feel, to where it is made and from what materials. The fabrics I use are soft and natural and the garments are made in England to maintain a low carbon footprint. Every item is vegan friendly. The first collection is called ‘unconscious clothing’ which is a play on the idea of the ‘unconscious consumer’. I want the women who buy my clothes to not necessarily be looking for something eco friendly, but to choose a piece because of the design – to unconsciously be conscious.

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How do you incorporate political issues into your work?

I am inspired by women who spoke out before others would. This collection incorporates 18th and 19th century portraiture into prints. Each painting or photograph is carefully placed to flatter the female form. The prints are slightly risqué and tongue in cheek. I want the women who wear my clothes to feel confident and empowered.

What materials do you use?

The Jerseys I have chosen for this collection are made from organic cotton, hemp and bamboo. Hemp is the most sustainable fabric. It grows quickly and is so dense it doesn’t allow for weeds. It is also naturally breathable and can be very soft. It hasn’t always had the best reputation but I want to change that. Hemp can be lightweight and delicate!

Which other brands or labels are you inspired by?

I am inspired by small brands that are authentic in their ideas and production. Veja is a footwear brand that has a really interesting supply chain. Although they do use leather, I am still waiting for someone to do something fresh and innovative with sustainable leather alternatives.

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How do you choose the names for your designs?

The names come from the different activists that I have referenced in the prints and women in my life who influence me. The Anna body is named after Anna Kingsford, an anti-vivisectionist, vegetarian and women’s rights campaigner who has heavily inspired the prints.

What have been the most challenging aspects of setting up your own clothing line?

There are a lot of challenges but each stage is rewarding when you finally find a solution. I am always looking to my friends and family for feedback. Sourcing everything from fabrics to packaging takes time. When we find a supplier that is great to work with or a fabric that we can continue to use, things become easier. All of our postal packaging is recycled, from the stickers to the mailers. It’s really important to me to waste as little as possible.

What’s next for the brand?

Our online shop has just launched, which is really exciting! The first collection is available to buy now. The next step is working on designs for the second release. I am researching new and inspiring prints at the moment. I can’t wait to see it all come together!

ELLISS is available to shop online at www.elliss.co.uk

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Tak.Ori

Tak.Ori Q&A

18.09.2014 | Fashion | BY:

Ukranian by birth but Italian by adoption, Svetlana Taccori developed a passion for making dresses for her dolls from a young age. Heavily influenced by her family of knitting fanatics, she decided to use the pieces in her closet as the basis for setting up her own knitwear label, and Tak.Ori was born. Her debut collection of knitwear has already been snapped up by Browns, Colette and ModaOperandi, and her AW14 collection will be available from Net-A-Porter and Matchesfashion.com

With knits on the horizon as a key winter trend, Twin chats to Svetlana to find out more about recasting fashion’s idea of the traditional woollen jumper.

What kicked off your love for wool?
I grew up in a cold country so I know the challenges of being well dressed and warm. Knitted items were always in my wardrobe and from a very early age I developed a passion for the softness, the volume and the warmth that comes from it so I suppose I’ve always had a love affair with wool even if I was unaware of it.

What is your favourite kind of wool?
I love merino and cashmere for their softness but in general I like experimenting and mixing the different types of wool. I’m constantly trying out new techniques, which will allow me to mix different wool fibres and colours together to create pieces which are easy to wear and that don’t react badly when washed.

Do you know how to knit? What kind of techniques do you use and which are your favourites?
I grew up in a household of knitting fanatics! I was eight when I had my first knitting classes and that’s when I learned how to turn a heel and make mini socks on five needles. I prefer to knit smooth surfaces using different colours as though I am painting on a canvas. In fact, I would have loved to be an artist and that’s partially due to how much art and literature combined to influence me while I was growing up, but my career path always seemed as though it would involve a needle and yarn. My love for fashion won out in the end!

Many people regard wool as quite casual and traditional – how would you dress it up?
I agree, knitwear was traditionally considered casualwear and at the beginning of the last century, it ended up in our closets because it was comfortable and cozy, making it a redundant textile in high fashion. But that’s an outdated concept for me. Wool is sustainable, renewable and eco-friendly, it’s also one of the most versatile yarns out there and it needs to be celebrated. I want to show that high fashion can be both beautiful and comfortable. I want to use its wholesome and pure image but add a rebellious and seductive element that’s both elegant and fun. In a way, I want to revolutionise the fashion knitwear scene and this is my way of rewriting the story of wool by showing that even an evening dresses can be knitted and look amazing. Wool pieces give you a freedom of movement that you don’t always get with other fabrics.

Who are your style icons?
I’m inspired by a bygone era of bold, outrageous women. Women who were intelligent, bright, charming and eccentric, yet elegant and chic at the same time. No doubt this is because we don’t really know them personally, and don’t see them in everyday situations which means they can’t disappoint. Today we seem to live in a society that favours exhibitionism over substance – I call it the Herostratus effect! My AW14 collection is influenced by the Marchesa Luisa Casati. She had a strong personality, she was charming, shocking and had a certain je ne sais quoi that made her the most fascinating and fashionable woman in Europe at the turn of the 20th century. I also love Nan Kempner. Her style is timeless but also very appropriate for today.

Where did you learn your craft? Have you worked with other designers?
At thirteen my grandfather gave me a sewing machine for my birthday. My parents had mentioned to him in passing that I was hand-sewing dresses for dolls. Every time I was given a doll, actually, the first thing I would do was to rip the clothes it came in off and make new outfits for them. So when I received my sewing machine there was no stopping me, and I moved on from making clothes for dolls to making clothes for my mum, sisters and school friends.

What prompted you to start your own label?
I’ve spent the past 15 years working in the fashion business for some of the most well-known luxury brands in the world, but I always felt it was inevitable that one day I would set-up my own label. Since my teens, I’ve been collecting hats and scarves everywhere I go (I have over a hundred hats and seventy scarves). It was after a trip to Cortina that I finally found the courage and felt that the time was right to go and do my own thing.

What inspired your SS15 collection?
As I mentioned earlier, knitwear and jersey came into our lives and into our closets in the 1920’s and this was a time of major change for women. I am intrigued by the way the suffragettes used their clothing as placards to fight for the vote. I wanted to dedicate my collection to that era and I wanted to celebrate and thank those women who made the freedoms many women enjoy today possible. These women were bold and, if you like, revolutionaries. So for my spring summer 2015 collection I wanted to create a modern interpretation of their strength and femininity as well as a contemporary view of the clothing worn by them. By using knit and jersey, which at the time were considered second-class fabrics and used solely for underwear and sports clothing, I feel it embodies the spirit of the suffragettes.

Are you influenced by your dual nationality?
I think we’re all influenced by our environment but our childhoods no doubt have the strongest influence. I can honestly say I feel very comfortable wherever I am. I love exploring the traditions and history of all the countries I visit – I will read the literature, listen to the local music, visit the art galleries, watch the movies, look at the colours and talk to as many people, young and old, as I can. I feel this willingness to learn helps to influence me in creating collections that appeal to people from different countries and continents. Of course it’s inevitable that I am also influenced by my Ukrainian roots and Italian adoption and, although I don’t rely on these elements for direction, I think you can see the bold, vibrant but traditional Ukrainian fused with the well cut, urban Italian chic in my designs, but luckily I’m a fan of dualities.

What can we expect from you in the next year?

I don’t know what to expect from myself! My main objective will be to continue to create contemporary, luxurious and innovative garments, and my fascination with fabric and wool technology knows no bounds. My fascination with experimentation helps push me creatively, especially during our spring summer collections as I have to focus on delivering wearable and interesting luxury pieces that are breathable and comfortable. We have big plans though and, I definitely want to improve my English!

tak-ori.com

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zineshot

Art-Zine

16.04.2012 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

What do you get when two young creative women, call together their friends to contribute to a zine dissecting what it is to be creative and female? The answer is teenVAG, a zine that explores coming of age, beauty and the body from a firmly feminine viewpoint. Confounding stereotypes and creating new imagery that fits their own feelings, Twin spoke to Natasha and Allison about teenVAG…

Where did the name teenVAG come from?
The name “teenVAG” is rooted in yesteryear conversation with an especially dear group of friends- we often threw around the word “pussy.”  Coincidentally, we all previously held internships at Condé Nast.

What thoughts preoccupy you as artists and how is teenVAG a conduit for them?
There are infinite forms of expressions. Collectively, the constant desire to create has fuelled our greatest artistic ventures and our initiative enables these visions to come into fruition. We are constantly developing ideas, themes, and insights while cultivating a unique rapport with an incredibly talented group of our contemporaries. teenVAG has allowed us to create an evolving, communal space we share amongst our featured artists and audience.

Why did you feel the need to form a female collective of artists?
New York is a super hub of creatives. The artists we worked with on Issue # 1 inspired the idea of an all female project- they set the groundwork for the basis of the project. The progression of Issue # 2 continues to foster a strong voice and female presence we feel most necessary amongst the creative community.

Why is a zine still an effective way of communicating ideas in the era of blogs, tumblrs etc?
It is tangible- there is physical contact with our audience. The viewer experiences the artist’s work without interruption and becomes a part of the collective dialogue taking place. The zine becomes a perpetual vehicle of communication that can always be revisited. In our digital age it offers a slight sense of nostalgia and a quiet escape from the fast paced nature of the information super-highway.

 

Who are the other female artists involved in the zine?
We work with twelve artists each issue- a mix of friends, acquaintances and artists we admire. Issue # 1 focused on the basis of photography and featured the work of Nina Hartmann, Sandy Kim, Maggie Lee, Nicole Lesser, Kathy Lo, Katheryn Love, Luisa Opalesky, Logan White, Coco Young, and Nadriah Zakariya.

Issue # 2 encompasses several mediums ranging from sculpture, to illustration, painting and mixed media as well as the inclusion of photography. Issue # 2 features work by Aimee Brodeur, Elizabeth Jaeger, Olivia Locher, Carly Mark, Katie Miller, Anamaria Morris, Sophie Van der Perre, Rebecca Andrea Richard, Tara Sinn, Brooke Ellen Taylor, Alexandra Velasco, and Jessica Williams.

What, if any, obstacles do female artists still face?
teenVAG: When initially reaching out to print teenVAG Issue # 1, a business denied carrying out the job due to “explicit sexual content,” “pornographic”  imagery, and a questionable title. Female artists face connotations that are inherently attached to their art due to gender- we want to break that stigma.

Where is the zine available?
The zine is available on our online shop http://teenvag.bigcartel.com/. as well as a selection of stockists in NY, LA and TX. For a full list of stockists check out our website teenvag.com

What’s next?
We are planning our second show for May of this year- it will be a collective exhibition surveying the work of artists we have been working with for the past year. In the coming months we will begin the conceptualisation of teenVAG Issue # 3 due out in September 2012.

We’ll also be doing a collaborative selection of pop-up shows and mini-events throughout the summer- we are very excited to continue working with an amazing network of creatives and hope to expand teenVAG to its fullest potential

 

 

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