With Parisian retail darling colette blowing the candles of its 15th birthday cake, a special celebration was in order. Nothing better then, than to invite regular conspirator Craig Redman and his monocled, egg-shaped alter-ego Darcel to take over the store with 150 portraits of people who have contributed to fashion, art, design, film and music and inspired colette and Redman over the past 15 years - from Rei Kawakubo to Anna Wintour, Inez & Vinoodh, Justice, Phoebe Philo and Yayoi Kusama, they're all there, one big celebratory family joined together in the ultimate party guest list.
Sarah discovered the blog early on and has been a brilliant supporter ever since. It's thanks to her that Darcel has been able to do a lot of what he's done. We prep'd initial lists for the exhibition which we then combined and finessed until we hit 150
Redman's cynical and hilarious one-eyed creature lives online at Darcel Disappoints, and has already shopped, dined and inappropriately boozed his way through exclusive parties, private views, Nowness, Style.com and Opening Ceremony, in a chronicle of the ups and downs of everyday NYC life. Sharing his aspirations and experiences, musings on fashion, art, design, the quotidian 10 minute SoHo coffee shop queue and the occasional head-on pigeon dropping, Darcel illustrates the awkward mess and the frightening, confusing, bizarre, amazing, fantastical, and often plain old boring modern life. Here, we speak to the Australian-born designer about colette, fashion horror stories and the daily disappointments of living in the big city...
Dazed Digital: Tell us a bit more about Darcel. Who is he, what inspired you to create him, and why does he only have one eye?
Craig Redman: I started Darcel when I first moved to New York as a way to remember all the banal observations everyone has when you move to a new place. My literacy skills are shocking so I thought it should probably be an illustrated blog rather than a written one. I designed him in a few hours, so there isn't a particular reason he's egg shaped or has one eye, I just wanted to keep him as simple as possible so I could adapt him to all sort of scenarios.
DD: Is Darcel Disappoints an autobiographical diary of sorts? How do you decide the 'right' moments to illustrate?
Craig Redman: Everything Darcel does I do, thou sometimes he reacts to it in a more exaggerated way. The right (though mostly wrong) moments happen to us all everyday - it could be walking to my studio and seeing some insane guy screaming at a hotdog vendor, New York is riddled with strange scenarios like that - I've just gotten used to remembering them and thinking "blog"!
DD: Was he an instant hit? Why do you think he is so relatable?
Craig Redman: I guess he caught on relatively early in the life of the blog, and I think he's relatable because he's very much grounded in reality. Even though he's a cartoon character he doesn't skip down rainbows and chat with butterflies - he finds it hard to wake-up every morning, he lives in a 6 floor walk up, he gets lonely and depressed, just like real life.
DD: Why is he "living one disappointing moment after another"? What has been his biggest one so far?
Craig Redman: Darcel is desperately hopeful, but hopelessly cynical. He's disappointed because he has high expectations for things; no-one wants to go to a mega show at MoMA and be disappointed by the exhibition design, or line-up for 20 minutes for "good" coffee then find out it's shit. I guess that stuff doesn't mean much in the bigger picture of life, but it matters for a moment, and the blog is all about moments. His biggest disappointment is himself of course! What could be worse than staring in the mirror and seeing that looking back at you.
DD: Do you have a favorite Darcel moment?
Craig Redman: I quite liked a Halloween post I did a while back. Darcel's costume involved an Ed Hardy Ugg on one foot, a Croc on the other, a Snuggie, a trucker hat, and those hideous plastic shutter sunglasses every 14 year-old girl from Missouri buys in Chinatown when they visit New York - essentially everything that's wrong with the world.
DD: How did you start collaborating with colette, and how did you select the 'best of' the last 15 years for their anniversary expo?
Craig Redman: Sarah discovered the blog early on and has been a brilliant supporter ever since. It's thanks to her that Darcel has been able to do a lot of what he's done. We prep'd initial lists for the exhibition which we then combined and finessed until we hit 150. A portion of the portraits I'd already done when I covered Fashion Week for Nowness as well as the regular 'Faces of Fashion Week' portraits I do on Darcel's blog every season - it was kind of building on those.
DD: What's the best (and worse) things about New York?
Craig Redman: Insanely high rent, shoebox apartments, frigid winters, devastatingly suffocating summers, millions of people with terrible attitudes cramped into a tiny island - whats not to love about New York?
DD: What would Darcel be excited, and disappointed about if he lived in Paris?
Craig Redman: Paris is a dream as a casual visitor, though I'm sure Darcel would get pissed off about the small things that make up day to day living.
DD: What has been your favorite collaboration, what is your dream one, and what do you have coming up next?
Craig Redman: The collaboration with Nowness was pretty amazing, covering New York, London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks. And my regular collaborations with colette too, we've done everything from products (like skateboards to candies), to pop-up stores with Chanel, to this new exhibition. I'm desperate to collaborate with Crazy Frog on a ringtone, I've been trying to track his people down for years!