How sex and chaos fuelled Claire Barrow’s new campaign

Nudity, gender-bending, banana-sharing – we talk to the provocateurs behind the anarchic images

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Claire Barrow, AW15, Eloise Parry, Akeem Smith, Jamie Reid
Claire Barrow AW15 campaignPhotography Eloise Parry, styling Akeem Smith, art direction Jamie Reid

With images featuring a model nude save for a hat, a couple sharing a banana and a gender-bending boy in a skirt, it’s not surprising that London-based designer Claire Barrow sees campaigns as a way to push her visual language beyond the walls of the fashion week presentation space. Teaming up with past collaborators including Dazed art director Jamie Reid (who worked on her AW15 High Flyers zine, an exploration of women’s desire to flee the corporate city), photographer Eloise Parry, Hood By Air stylist Akeem Smith and Dazed 100 set designer Janina Pedan, her latest campaign shots are a full-throttle excursion into the carpeted corners of her world. The images – captured in a space that feels a Nevada brothel designed by David Lynch – are shot through with underground sexuality. One image of a woman in a full-length coat could be a tear-sheet from a forgotten 70s mag for leather enthusiasts. Read on to hear how Barrow and Parry collaborated on the campaign, and click through the images in the gallery above.

What kinds of references did you look at?

Eloise Parry: We all had different points of reference, but personally, Emir Kusturica was a big influence. I think Underground is one of the most beautiful films ever made, it’s so sexy and chaotic. We wanted loads of sex and chaos in the campaign. 

Claire Barrow: We all wanted it to feel sensory and anarchic, sexy! Eloise and I have worked together on different projects since we were at art college. Akeem flew over and brought lots of sexiness and ways of styling the collection like I hadn’t seen done before. Janina (Pedan) also created the set.

Why is collaboration important to you personally?

Eloise Parry: When people come at a project from different perspectives to make one thing, the work produced is usually more interesting. Also, having people around to tell you when something looks shit is important. It can be stifling working alone. 

Claire Barrow: It’s more fun. There is power in the collective.

What inspired the casting? Why include male models as well as female?

Eloise Parry: Gender is kind of irrelevant. We street-cast and internet-stalk people that we think look good, who’ve got some style. I think Claire’s brand has so much attitude, it’s more fitting to do it this way – it feels less formulaic.

Claire Barrow: Gender doesn’t come into it so much; we cast individuals that we can’t wait to photograph in the clothes. Eloise and I stalk people on Instagram and approach people on the street to then stalk on Facebook. We don't look to agencies anymore, as we need to meet people and work them out and know they understand what’s happening and what we are trying to do. It’s really exciting being this age and meeting all these people! 
 

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