A classical rendition of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit echoed through the Neil Barrett show space yesterday. It was an unusual sound to hear, but one that quickly set the tone for a collection – styled by Dazed's newly appointed fashion director Robbie Spencer – that embodied a grunge mentality, but upheld the elegant precision of modernism. This season, Barrett also paid homage to the minimalist designs of Ray and Charles Eames, referencing their graphic designs to create optical illusions with his garments. Black and white patterns ran throughout the collection and even manifested itself into the graphic shapes of the model’s hair. It was a collection of beautiful contrasts. Backstage we caught up with Neil Barrett to find out more.
Dazed Digital: There is a real clash of references this season with the very early Modernism and this new subculture of street wear. How did that come about?
Neil Barrett: Okay well I’m trying to move on from what I did last season where I looked at German Modernism, the early nineteen thirties and very diagonal sort of situations. I wanted to have something that was more organic, so I was looking through the various periods of Modernism - particularly Californian modernism with Ray and Charles Eames. It is so curvy and so organic, but at the same time they were very beautiful shapes. So I tried to incorporate those within each garment and then I wanted to find some sort of graphical pattern.
I was looking in the wardrobe and saw this kind of lumberjack shirt, so I just thought how I could take that and make it into something new by basically magnifying it - either micro or mega versions of it - then weave it up in really beautiful Italian fabrics. Then I thought about printing on silks and leathers to get lots of different textures going, but with something that’s very street and very also cheap - its 100% grunge. It was really about how to make grunge chic.
DD: And was there one particular work of theirs that really stuck with you?
Neil Barrett: It’s the classical chair; it’s the one single, beautiful chair - that side view of the chair that I took to do the very graphic sweatshirts.
DD: Did that also go into the hair?
Neil Barrett: That was the thing, I was trying to take some sort of element, very simple, and do like a curve within the hair. So it was just what we could do to but a few little elements to push it a little but still be very masculine and very wearable.