- The menswear designer talks David Hellqvist through the thought process behind the beautiful imagery
London menswear designer Christopher Shannon has managed to develop an aesthetic that reaches beyond the catwalk. Season after the season, the Liverpudlian designer has honed his look, creating a niche for his fusion of sportswear and high-end fashion. The attitude in his boyish take on streetwear means the clothes are both directional and wearable. But anyone who’s ever been to one of his catwalk shows will also have noticed that Shannon’s invites work in symbiosis with his collections. Not many designers spend as much time and energy on getting the invite to match the clothes in attitude, atmosphere and style as Shannon. Port asked him to pick out a few of his favourite invites and talk us through the thought process behind them.“If I see a designer from a certain background do something with an invite that I think has no relevance to his or hers work at all, I think ‘What does that really have got to do with you?’ The invites are part of my research; they’re just very personal to me. My collections are pieces of clothes that I was attached to at a certain time and with the invites I wanted to have the same kind of feeling, even if it’s just aninstinctive connection. I want to look back at my work and know that I’ve been connected to it – that’s really important to me. The invite might be a photo someone I know has taken, or sometimes I’ve found a photo and contacted the photographer and said ‘Look, I really love this image, mind if I use it?’ and they say yes. There has to be a bit of a dialogue with the invite, as well as a graphic. The first one I did was in collaboration with collage artist James Dawe. It was a collage with boys and their ciggies. With the sort of garments that I’m looking at – lot of the times it’s quite trashed old tracksuit tops and things – I knew I didn’t want to go down a new rave angle or ironic sportswear angle, it was just about the pieces having a certain sensitivity and cultural relevance.”Palm Tree
We used this invite for Spring Summer 12. I wanted a slightly seedy and fake tropical feel but I can’t remember where I found this image. I didn’t really realise quite how suggestive it was until my PR called to say she thought it was ‘erotic’! At the time I was looking at loads of festival imagery of people just getting wrecked.Above:’Palm Tree’ SS’12
- BlossomThis was for Autumn Winter 11. I just remember it was a freezing February and we had been working in a cold studio all winter long, I was gagging for spring to come. Outside the kitchen window of the house I grew up in, there was a cherry blossom tree. They are the thing I mostly associate with the end of winter. I grew up near these big boulevards that had blossom trees on them, it was just really stunning in spring. As kids we would shake the trees to make the blossom fall – it would drive the adults mental, now I understand why..
Left: ‘Blossom’, AW’11
Above: ‘Suburbia’ AW’12
This is Autumn Winter 12, I had been watching the film LA Haine a lot and thinking about the crossover of styles between French street styles and the UK. I was working with the artist Julie Verhoeven on the set for the show; it was a bit net curtain-esque. I had this idea of the old ladies watching some kids vandalising the phone box. Julie had models behind the set with their legs coming through. This image is not far from where I grew up, all those quiet weekends wondering around suburbia as a kid, looking at twitchy net curtains. The light in Liverpool is very particular; it’s really clean and sharp. I can always tell when things on TV have been filmed there because of the way the light is.
For Spring Summer 2013, I was looking at loads of British festivals. The photographer James Pearson-Howes had been compiling a book of his photos of these rituals. They are really nicely put together so I asked him if we could use the photos and he agreed. I’ve always loved documentary photography and portraiture. The lad in the hay suit is called ‘The Idiot’, it’s something to do with chasing him through the village and setting him on fire, I think. I’m probably mixing up my rituals but they are all just an excuse for a massive piss up really…Above: ‘The Idiot’ SS’12
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