Alistair Carr, Creative Director of Pringle of Scotland, was brought in to help push the luxury knitwear brand into the twenty-first century by reworking the label’s classic look, and he’s continuing to do so by enlisting the help of British artist Liam Gillick. Turning his hand to fashion Gillick has created his first capsule collection of accessories and knitwear called ‘LiamGillickForPringleOfScotland’.
His range debuts at a Pringle of Scotland pop-up shop in the heart of the Miami’s design district, which opened yesterday during the Art Basel Miami Beach 2011. In the shop Gillick has also designed a structure where his collection will be presented on, especially for the shop echoing the clean lines and shapes present in his personal artwork. In the shop will also be Carr’s S/S12 men’s and women’s wear collections, as well as featuring elements of their future store designs. Here Gillick talks to us about how this exciting collaboration came about and how he enjoys the contrast between his artwork and his ventures into the fashion world.
Dazed Digital: How did the collaboration with Pringle transpire?
Liam Gillick: Pringle have already worked with some artists on one-off projects and special editions. The initial invitation was along the same lines. But I don’t want to just make special editions. I have always been interested in Pringle making wearable things that cross-over class structures. Right away we were keen to develop a small collection that could be used and would not be overly branded as an artist’s work. It was Alistair Carr who suggested that we make bags.
He could see something in my artwork that would lend itself to making objects rather than garments. We kept a men’s and women’s knit to reinforce the history of Pringle and my interest in finding out how this could be done – but primarily we have produced bags and related accessories. It has been a real production process – learning and watching – and coming to terms with the speed and stress of a contemporary company like Pringle.
DD: What can we expect to see in the pop-up shop?
Liam Gillick: The pop-up store will show the entire context of Pringle’s new direction – I see my work here as integrated into Alistair’s work in general and specifically. I am an element of a diverse whole. There will be the new bags and a new display system but this only has meaning in the context of the new directions that Pringle is taking.
DD: How have you approached the design of the collection? What did you want to convey?
Liam GIllick: I wanted to convey that an artist has struggled to produce things that people might actually use on a daily basis. I kept my name off the exterior of the bags and at all times avoided merely attempting to translate my existing work into a product. This has been very complicated. Every detail has been agonised over. I am not trying to convey any inspiration or message – the process has been about production and real work rather than branding or the reproduction of an image.
I have had to think hard about what kind of bags to produce. The entire process is about throwing me off my normal track and testing some of my ideas about production, work and distribution, that are at the heart of the critical aspect of my artwork. That work only has meaning if it is tested and this is a big test for me.
DD: How does the retail installation designed for the event relate to what’s in the collection?
Liam Gillick: It is a semi-autonomous artwork that is intended to operate as an integrated aspect of my work for Pringle – meaning that it is not entirely one thing or another. It is a display system – it is a table – it is a display system – it is a constructed art object.
I want both the status and place of the bags and the structure to keep moving in and out of focus and shifting in and out of significance. With a lot of my artwork it is not clear where the moment of significance might be located. It could be in a small book rather than a large construction. The same is true with this project.
DD: Have you enjoyed the foray into the accessories and knitwear world?
Liam Gillick: It has been extremely productive to watch Alistair work – and follow the extremes of deadlines – quality control and production systems. I don’t know if that’s everyone’s idea of enjoyment – but it is significant for me.
DD: Do you feel this work is separate from your artwork or an extension of it? Can a relationship be drawn between the two disciplines?
Liam Gillick: There is no way to combine the two. My attitude and theoretical underpinnings make it impossible to completely synchronise. But that’s the whole point. We have exchanged perspectives and ideas. There are enormous differences. I am more interested in differences than desperate attempts to try and resolve the un-resolvable.
DD: Can we expect to see more collections from LiamGillickForPringleOfScotland? What else are you working on at the moment?
Liam Gillick: You have to ask Alistair. I am sure he has lots of other people to work with. But seriously - the experience has been extremely interesting for me. A better question might be should we expect you to produce more collections for anyone other than Pringle? And right now I would say no. While we are making real things for real people – that won’t work if I keep stumbling into the fashion context. Beyond this in 2012 I am working on solo exhibitions in Zurich, New York and London next year alongside public projects in Houston Texas and Guernica in the Basque Region. A French edition of my book “Why Work?” will also be out in the spring.