The singer discusses her latest range captured here in a series of images shot by Hanna Moon and styled by Charles Jeffrey
While she’s modelled for legendary fashion designers Jean Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs, former frontwoman of the Gossip Beth Ditto is now a designer in her own right. In February, she launched her debut “uncompromising and unapologetic” collection and now she’s following it up with a second. All ethically produced, the range is intended to be timeless and, as the designer asserts, “isn’t a woman’s line” but “anyone’s line, you just have to want to wear it.”
Launching today on bethditto.com, the collection is showcased in a campaign photographed by Dazed contributor Hanna Moon and styled by friend of a friend Charles Jeffrey, the designer credited with bringing the spirit of London nightlife back to fashion. Shot in LA and featuring models cast on Instagram (including Isabel Hendrix), the images read more like candid party photos than a put-together fashion shoot with, as Ditto puts it, a “by-the-seat-of-your-pants” set-up – true to the musician’s no-fronts attitude, that was completely the point.
Ditto worked with her long-time stylist Frédéric Baldo to the create clothes that she herself is completely obsessed with, excited to wear, and proud of – not only because of their design, but because they offer a sustainable alternative to those whose size disqualifies them from many high-street and high-fashion brands. Here, she opens up about the range, capitalism and the co-opting of plus-size fashion.
How did your personal relationship with fashion begin, can you remember your first memory of being interested in it?
Beth Ditto: Probably my mum cutting up socks and washrags to make Barbie doll dresses, and my sister and I playing pageant – I really wanted to look like Cyndi Lauper, a lot. When I was four and five I remember me and my sister taking sheets and clothes pins, making these drapey Grecian dresses and pretending we were in a pageant.
What can we expect from this collection, how is it different from the first one?
Beth Ditto: I did so much hands-on (work) in the first one and this one, instead of doing it myself, I worked with my stylist who is a designer – she’s incredible because she actually understands what needs to happen to make something come to life. It was really good to be like, ‘Listen, I trust you, we’ve worked together for ten years, so you understand what it’s like to work with a body like mine,’ and so it was really good to just let go.
What’s your favourite piece from this collection?
Beth Ditto: Oh God, I don’t know, I love the cocoon coat because I love a coat and I think, being big, it is hard to find a good coat, and then the denim dress – the crystal ball dress – is so amazing, then there’s a huge sweatshirt that has the nail polish drops on it and I can’t wait, I’m so excited. Those, I think, are my favourite things, other than that, the eyelash dress – I don’t know, there’s so much!
“I feel like there’s all this empowerment now; taking back the word ‘fat’ and owning that you’re bigger” – Beth Ditto
It’s almost as if you designed it yourself...!
Beth Ditto: It’s almost as if I care! That’s the thing, what’s so fun about it is that you get to wear things that you want to make, and any designer can say that, but for me this is so special because you can’t fit into everything that every designer makes, you can’t fit into things that people on the high street make, so it’s really exciting to be like ‘I want this, and I can’t fucking wait, it’s going to be great’.
Since you’ve been involved in the fashion industry do you feel as if attitudes towards ‘plus size’ have changed, and that we’ve progressed?
Beth Ditto: Yeah, oh my god, are you kidding? When I look at things compared to five years ago, ten years ago, 15 years ago when I was a teenager it is a completely different world. What’s really cool is that now, because of things like Etsy and Instagram, there are all these incredible pockets of DIY designers and people who create and sell things for each other. It’s so incredible to see them support each other and give them (the) encouragement they need to keep going and to feel understood.
When I did an Evans capsule collection, I wanted to put Miss Piggy on a t-shirt and they were like, ‘no, we’re afraid it will give customers the wrong idea and that they’ll feel offended,” and I don’t think that would happen now. I feel like there’s all this empowerment now; taking back the word ‘fat’ and owning that you’re bigger.
But, at the same time, I’m really afraid to see things co-opted. We’ve come too far and done it by ourselves, for ourselves, for so long that we can’t let the beauty industry strangle that and co-opt it into their own weird fucking capitalist bullshit – that’s got to change. So that’s why I really wanted to do something and try to do it as independently and as ethically as possible.
It’s similar to the co-opting of feminism.
Beth Ditto: Right!
It’s exciting, but difficult to navigate because you don’t want corporations to take hold of it and run with it and then it not belong to who it’s actually important for.
Beth Ditto: Which is inevitable, isn’t it? But I feel like as long as we’re just doing what we can to preserve what we have, that’s our power with it. I think that’s really incredible, and I really want to try to do that. It’s difficult because all of those things come at a price – sometimes it takes so much out of you.
Related to that, why is it so important for you that the clothes you produce are timeless?
Beth Ditto: Because if you invest in something I think it’s that thing where you be the change that you want to see in the world. It sounds bougie to say that (and) then ‘here’s a $300 dress’ but the thing is, sometimes I wish that there were more options that were $300 dresses that fit me that I could wear for the next six years and never even think twice about it.
What’s next for you?
Beth Ditto: Oh man, the record. I just finished it, I’m done as of last Friday, I’m so excited.