Amelia’s Magazine | Simeon Farrar, The Great British Summertime: New S/S 2012 Season Preview Interview

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Madi Illustrates
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Madi Illustrates

What began as an ‘art experiment’ by London-based Simeon Farrar has now turned into a successful fashion label; winning not only international acclaim but also the prestigious NEWGEN award three times along the way. Despite being crowned a fashion buyer favourite with stockists such as Liberty in the UK and many more in Paris, Tokyo, and Sydney (to name a few), Simeon hasn’t lost sight of his Fine Art training gained at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham. Every collection begins with a philosophical root from which the designs and drawings develop and each one-off piece is then created with Simeon’s trademark dash of humour delivered through experiments with colour and print, done by hand in his Shoreditch studio.

Simeon Farrar
Simeon Farrar, all photographs courtesy of Iroquois PR

As someone who trained as a fine artist, what was it that made you want to turn your hand from canvas and paper to fabric?
I’ve always been into printmaking and I used to use a lot of screen-printing in my paintings. I would load them up with all sorts of images and paint over them to form multiple layers. I started putting some of these images on to t-shirts purely as another surface rather than as fashion. The first t-shirts were so loaded with paint like the canvases that they could never be worn. I got so into this that it soon evolved into fashion.

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by JL Illustration
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Jason Lear

As a ‘non-fashion’ person, did you expect to make such a big impression when you first exhibited at London Fashion Week?
Absolutely not. I had no idea what people would think of me. I didn’t even have an order book so I guess I didn’t expect to write any orders. Suddenly I had all these people wanting to order this junk I’d made which I found all a bit weird. It was still an art experiment at that point.

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Abi Hall
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Abi Hall

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about being a designer and the way the world of Fashion works?
As an artist you develop a certain degree of snobbery towards anything that isn’t ‘Art’. I can safely say that I have been cleansed of that snobbery after being welcomed so openly into the fashion world. I’ve learned that it’s all a load of rubbish and an artist just does what ever he/she feels is the most honest path for their creativity and it doesn’t need a label to make it valid.

Neon Butterfly Chiffon Maxi
Butterfly Chiffon Maxi

Your ‘Kate Mouse‘ illustration has become a widely recognised and coveted t-shirt graphic. Why do you think it’s had so much success?
For me it was one of those magical moments when an image just works perfectly. I’d drawn the image for a nursery rhyme collection we were doing at the time and I wanted to do Three Blind Mice. So, to name the file on Photoshop I used ‘Kate Mouse’ so I would recognise it. Then it just clicked, like a light bulb coming on above my head. I think it’s been a success for the same reason. It’s not forced or contrived, just simple and genius. There’s been such a demand ever since her birth that she’s featured in every collection since, with various additions. She gets pimped up every season. Except this forthcoming A/W 2012.

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Alia Gargum
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Alia Gargum

What personally inspired you to create a ‘Kate Mouse’ t-shirt with Net-A-Porter especially for the Japan Earthquake relief appeal?
Two of my staff are Japanese and they have been with me for years so due to that I feel a certain closeness with Japan. We sell a lot in Japan, and since I began the label the Japanese have been so supportive and loyal to my brand that when the earthquake hit it felt like an opportunity to repay some of that. The Kate Mouse print was our obvious big hitter, so I thought it would make the most money if we offered it for the appeal. We did it by ourselves at first, offering a free t-shirt with every donation to Save The Children. That went very well but as we were paying postage we had to limit it to the UK only. My PR company Iroquois and I approached Net-A-Porter so we could take it further. They were amazing with how they took it up and offered so much percentage of the profit to the appeal. I was very impressed with their instant generosity.

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Dana Bocai
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Dana Bocai

Your current S/S 2012 collection not only has your own charming take on the uniquely temperamental British summer through neon colours, raindrop prints and a nod to the new Royalty, but a uniquely feel-good quote that runs throughout. How did the slogan ‘You Are My Silver Lining’ form in your head?
There is always a sense of romance in my collections, and no matter what the theme I always like to bring that in. I like the idea of someone being your Silver Lining. No matter what happens in life there is someone who’s very presence brings with it a sense of hope or a way out of darkness.

Slogan Print Tote with Leather Handles
Slogan Print Tote with Leather Handles

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Alejandra Espino
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Alejandra Espino

What are your favourite colours to print in (at the moment) and why?
I loved using the neon colours in the S/S 2012 collection. I like printing images in neon then overlaying that with a black print and washing it all out so the greys defuse the neon a bit.

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Mitika Chohan
Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Mitika Chohan
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Mitika Chohan

What can we expect for A/W 2012 from Simeon Farrar?
For S/S 2012 we had a ghost print that did very well, so I’ve built the next collection round that. So I guess it’s a Haunted House collection. We’ve got lots of ghost drawings, howling wolves, that kind of thing. But, there’s also a romantic side to it. I’ve always been interested in the tragic side of vampires and the sense of undying love that runs through it. So I’ve brought a lot of that in to the collection. And for the first time, NO KATE MOUSE. I didn’t want to cheapen her and put some fangs on her or something. Kate Mouse is dead, you heard it here first.

Cloud Print Tote Bag
Cloud Print Tote Bag

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Gareth A Hopkins
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Gareth A Hopkins

Simeon Farrar’s current S/S 2012 collection is available to buy in store and online at a variety of stockists, and his forthcoming A/W 2012 collection will be exhibited at Tranoi this March.

Categories ,Abi Hall, ,Alejandra Espino, ,Alia Gargum, ,Autumn/Winter 2012-13, ,british summer, ,canvas, ,Creativity, ,Dana Bocai, ,drawing, ,Fine Art, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,Haunted House, ,illustration, ,Iroquois, ,Jason Lear, ,Kate Mouse, ,liberty, ,london, ,London Fashion Week, ,Madi Illustrates, ,Mitika Chohan, ,Neon, ,Net-A-Porter, ,Newgen, ,painting, ,paris, ,Romance, ,royalty, ,Save The Children, ,screen-printing, ,shoreditch, ,Simeon Farrar, ,Spring/Summer 2012, ,sydney, ,T-shirts, ,tokyo, ,Tranoi, ,University of Creative Arts Farnham, ,Vampires, ,You Are My Silver Lining

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Amelia’s Magazine | Pre-LFW interview: Yan To

Orange burn holes halter-neckImages throughout courtesy of Yan To, depicting the SS10 collection ‘One’.

I recently came across your designs at the Iroquois press day and was amazed that your SS10 collection, ‘One’ was your first ever collection. What made you leave the world of corporate advertising in favour of fashion design?
I am very humbled by the positive reaction I received to One. A lot of people have a dream and when I had the chance to follow mine, it really was not a difficult decision to make. Reconnecting with your soul is a beautiful thing.

Black rose applique dress

Your debut collection, ‘One’ features many sexy dresses made from luxurious fabrics distressed with everything from spray paint to Marlboro Light cigarettes. You’re clearly a very resourceful designer, how did these ideas come to you? Was it a gradual process of experimentation?
My design process largely takes place in my head. I create problems which I then set out to solve. In the case of the techniques used in One, I was left to my own devices for the weekend and it just seemed like a good idea to hang dresses on the washing line and see what would happen if I attacked them with paint. The burning was an experiment really, but I had no spare fabric and it was quite late at night so I decided to try it on a dress. I tried burning dresses in my kitchen but the potential for a fire drove me outside. It was actually really surreal burning holes in my dresses against a backdrop of stars on a still and clear night.

Checked jacket and skirt

From the artistic elements sampled in your debut collection one might say that you approach fashion design like an artist would approach a blank canvas. Is this a fair estimation?
Maybe. I strive to challenge the way I think about fashion and as such I am happy to take a lot of risks. As I received no formal training and at first I did have a few hang ups about this, but then I rationalised that I could use this to my advantage. I do not have a skill set, which I am comfortable to fall back on so every piece is a challenge and a struggle. I am not apprehensive in trying anything as there is no easier route to take. That said though, the design process is often very slow. I would definitely agree with your reference to a blank canvas.

Red rose applique dress

Do you have any fashion heroes, if so who?
I think Pierre Cardin was a visionary before the merchandisers took over. As for people who have touched me directly, I would have to say that a guy called Chris who is a pattern cutter at a sampler’s I use is a real hero. He has lived the rag trade most of his life, doing most jobs within it. He is the perfect foil for me and I have learned so much by observing him make sense and reality of my ramblings. He is a real tradesman with the soul of an artisan.

Orange sprayed halter-neck

Is there any one woman that you would love to see wearing your designs, who you feel sums up your ethos as a designer?
I would have to say no. I think there is a danger as a designer in having an ideal woman. I believe my job is to learn how people work with my pieces and not dictate how I envisage the ideal to be. I do admire the styles of many people, some famous and some I see in everyday life.

Black brushstroke halter-neck

What is your inspiration for FW10, and what can we expect from your upcoming LFW presentation?
AW10 is a very different collection to One. The collection was created during a time of intense upheaval in my life and is tainted by regret, anger, guilt and yet the same time joy. There is no spray painting and so far no burning. There are also no halter neck dresses. Instead the focus is on form, manipulation and texture. The collection is larger and more diverse than before with the introduction of coats, leg wear and knitwear. It is far more innovative than One and may surprise many people who saw One. My refuge from the events (still) happening in my life was to design. The results are what I need to share.

Stripped trousers

How do you unwind after the stresses of LFW?
It is a privilege to be part of LFW and as such there is no stress. It’s just a series of problems to overcome. The stresses I encounter in other areas of my life, far outweigh anything I have so far experienced in fashion.

What has been your career’s biggest highlight to date?
I got a real high from seeing the first pieces of quality press.

Is there anything in particular that you are looking forward to accomplishing this decade?
If I can maintain a level of integrity, grow with the people who have helped me, continue to design, have a great network of stockists and support my family, I will be a very happy man.

Categories ,Iroquois, ,Marlboro Lights, ,One, ,Pierre Cardin, ,Yan To

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