NYPD Blue and the disarming of uniform by the men's and womenswear designer
Patrik Ervell is of the New York avant-garde, making inspired but tactical clothing to suit both men and women with uniform style. This season plays with the dress codes of power, with subverted cop sweaters and a palette pulled from NYPD Blue. We caught up with him before the show to discuss uniform dressing, androgyny and the politics of casting.
Dazed Digital: What new things will we be seeing this season?
Patrik Ervell: I was sort of starting with a Police aesthetic this season, nothing overt but there's a feeling of uniforms; dark navy nylon kind of utilitarian clothing. There's a lot of reinforced patches and quilting. Uniforms is always a starting point for me. I love uniforms.
DD: Why is that?
Patrik Ervell: I don't know, it appeals to me, it appeals to a certain kind of person I guess… It just looks good. There's this rigid, authoritarian way of dressing when you have a uniform but, at the same time, when you reference that as a designer I think you also disarm it. It's not necessarily a celebration of what authority looks like, it might also be a disarming of that. It's what authority looks like now, it looks like the Police, it looks like a dark blue nylon. I think it's interesting to play with that.
DD: In showing men's and women's together, do you design with androgyny in mind?
Patrik Ervell: Some designers, when they start one thing and then do another, make up some kind of narrative that's like "They're a couple" or "They're friends" or whatever, the guy and the girl. For me it's more continuous, there's parts of the men's that bleeds into the women's and parts of the women's that bleeds into the men's, which is probably a more interesting direction.
In the middle there's a little bit of a neutral ground. There's one look for women here that's one of the men's jackets that she's wearing but it looks amazing on her. It's not like gender neutral dressing; there are things that are very much womenswear and very much menswear but there's an in between zone too.
DD: What kind of qualities do you look for when casting?
Patrik Ervell: Casting is a tricky thing because there's so many loaded things involved when you describe what you want. What I've told my casting director for the last few seasons is that I want a new American look. I feel like in fashion the dominant aesthetic is this extreme euro face look, which has been going for a good 15 or 20 years now, which seems pretty boring. That's always the goal – a new American look, which is, I think, different.