Inside a cavernous white space, mounds of crumbling charcoal are piled into precarious peaks. Beams of light burst from the peaks into the space. Models in delicate unfinished tulle and vulnerable fleshy pink sheaths pace the mounds, the stark white of their clothing tantalisingly close to the dark dirt. At Phoebe English’s SS14 presentation, the desolate landscapes and barren open spaces that inspired her collection were made apparent.
In a short documentary on the making of her collection, shot by Joe Ridout, Phoebe’s references can be seen in her studio. As she sketches a design, studio workers thread knots into mesh to create an outsized macramé, and cut patterns into black tulle. The look book is shot among mounds of black dirt, like those found in the presentation.
Here, Phoebe shares her SS14 inspiration boards and reference imagery with Dazed, from a burnt out shed to eerie shots of suspended bodies. She tells of summer trips to ‘Britain’s only desert’ and finding images which express to her a particular feeling.
"I spent a lot of time as a child in playgrounds because we didn't have a garden and otherwise I was cooped up in a very small house. Swings are such an excellent thing when you are small, what with the physical freedom and motion. Here I was interested the eerie and lively dynamic movement but the complete absence of people."
"I sometimes struggle with finding research images as I’m often looking for a notion or feeling. Here I was looking for something that expressed floating or gravity. I love this image, a staircase to nowhere. It’s pointless but wonderful."
“This is an image I found of Dungeness in Kent where I went this summer. I have never ever been anywhere quite like it before; it is equally barren and exquisitely beautiful. I had gone to see Derek Jarman's house, he lived and worked there, and I had seen images of his famous garden when I read his autobiography. I will never forget Dungeness, the sparse stretching shingle, which is classified as Britain's only desert, is punctuated only with a scattering of small black wooden sheds, a towering black lighthouse and an almost modernist looking power station. Totally weird.”
"I’m not a huge Sam Taylor-Wood fan but I have always been drawn to this series, it made a big impact on me the first time I saw it. I love how elegantly balanced the space, action and tone is. A beautiful harmony."
THE MAKING OF PHOEBE ENGLISH SS14