Fred Butler AW 2012 by Mitika Chohan
I love Fred Butler. She has been one of my favourite accessories and props designers for a few years now and apart from what she makes I also adore the fascinating and playful way in which she dresses as well as the way she expresses herself in interviews, which reveals a really quite special person indeed. I had seen her props pop up here and there in magazines, like in Amelia’s Magazine Issue 7 for which she made a Noah’s Ark shaped paper hat – in fact Amelia Gregory was one of the first to commission props from Fred. But I think a story I saw in i-D’s The Agyness Deyn Issue from May 2008, titled ‘Attitude’, featuring an inflatable rockets bra by Fred among other striking props, was what made me an official fan.
While queueing to see Fred’s live presentation of her A/W 2012 collection at The Portico Rooms in Somerset House on the 20th of February I was extra happy because – apart from the obvious reason – my young friend and budding stylist Isabella Sumner of Secret Danger Sister was texting me from backstage. Isabella became Kim Howells’ assistant for this London Fashion Week season after I forwarded to her a post by Kim I saw on Facebook asking for help! Kim has styled numerous Fred Butler presentations, films and lookbooks. Fred’s presentation took the form of a mini catwalk show which repeated itself over and over to a different audience each time. And there was quite a crowd to get through. During the four times in and out from the Portico Rooms – I saw the show twice – there were queues extending all the way to and down the stairs leading to the ground level of Somerset House. In those queues I spotted an array of some of the coolest, cutting edge creatives around, like Piers Atkinson, Bishi, Alùn Davies and Diane Pernet and filmmaker Konstantinos Menelaou from ASVOF, to name a few, all of whom of course love Fred’s original work.
Refreshingly the show opened with pop singer Charli XCX singing her catchy song ‘I’ll Never Know’ live with a band. Fred Butler, who’s twitter feed is full of #thismorningimlisteningto and other music related tweets, has a special relationship with music. She often DJs, she has made props for musicians such as Patrick Wolf, Nicki Minaj, Beth Ditto, La Roux AND Lady Gaga and, according to her, looking at the way musicians were dressed on album covers when she was little has been very inspiring. So it seems entirely natural that this season Fred, enabled by Red Bull Catwalk Studio, collaborated with Charlie XCX on a bespoke soundtrack for the collection. In general I think that the way Fred uses different art forms to enhance and show her work works incredibly well – for example she has made beautiful fashion films of her previous collections with talented young directors such as Zaiba Jabbar and Elisha Smith-Leverock.
Fred Butler AW 2012 by Nicola Ellen
Fred Butler 2012 by Catherine Meadows
Another notable and interesting thing about Fred Butler’s collections is the way she titles them using combined, long and sometimes made up words and phrases that seem to describe an other worldly thing or process in exactly the same intricate and imaginative way her pieces are made. The title of this collection was Tank Top-Ranking, Tong-Tied and Twisted. Her S/S 2012 collection was called Sonic Sinuate Supertemporal Sequestador and a 2011 collection went under the name of Incandescent Meta-morph-incessant.
Fred Butler AW 2012 LFW by Deborah Moon
Following her S/S 2012 collection which featured more round shapes, frills and quite a bit of fabric, I was personally happy that in this collection Fred returned to origami folding techniques and body props with more clear cut, geometric shapes. This time I thought that the four colour goddesses that stepped out looked impeccable from head to toe. Each model had a monochrome base formed by beautiful knitted undergarments – a collaboration with EDE who specialise in English produced hand knits – and a matching colour wig. Placed on top of that base were a quilted, high collar gilet, origami obi belts, a marshmallow hued harness with twisted tubes, more belts and headbands out of twisted strings and more origami inspired, sculptural body pieces. The outfits were completed by colour matching shoes designed in collaboration with Rosy Nicholas. According to the press release there was a sushi related theme under all of this, especially in relation to the colour palette used. Usually I am very intrigued by the designers’ influences and references – and I have fun making up quite a few of my own when looking at collections – but Fred Butler’s work is for me so striking and fulfilling visually that my mind feels too drunk with pure aesthetic pleasure to care for any explanation in other terms.
All photography by Maria Papadimitriou
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