Lava La Rue, Raye, and designers Feng Chen Wang and Paria Farzaneh all offered their advice following their involvement in the label’s new Spark Progress projectConverse
Last month, Converse announced its latest initiative – Spark Progress – a project spotlighting five emerging female creatives working in London. To kick it off, the brand released a short film focussing on the talents – musicians Lava La Rue, Raye, Ama Lou and designers Feng Chen Wang and Paria Farzaneh – offering an intimate glimpse into their lives and studio spaces.
The message behind the project is firmly focussed on the future, offering help and support to young Londoners who are carving out careers in artistic industries. Through nurturing its new talents, Converse makes way for the next generation of tastemakers who are destined to change our world via Spark Progress.
To celebrate the project and the talents involved, we interviewed each of them in series of candid film clips, with two more new-gen creatives – Maria Falbo and Celeste – with each imparting their advice on navigating life as a woman in the arts.
LAVA LA RUE
Musician and visual artist Lava La Rue, founder of female collective NiNE8 – a group comprised of 15 artists, designers, producers and musicians, was born and raised in West London. Her sound blends hip hop and neo-soul, with its roots in firmly planted in spoken word poetry. “The most fun part is experimentation, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone,” she says, of her creative practice. When it comes to forging a career in the arts, La Rue also says it’s vital to “create your own universe,” particularly when it comes to working across multiple disciplines as she does.
“Surround yourself with grounded and good females,” said ambitious 21-year-old singer and songwriter Raye, when she dropped by the Dazed offices to offer up her advice on being a positive female force in the arts. And, having worked with the likes of Drake, John Legend and Charli XCX, she knows a thing or two about paving a successful path in music. Exercising regularly is also on her agenda for boosting mental wellbeing, as is restricting social media usage. “We’re not happy all the time and we’re not perfect all the time,” she says, warning that what we see on Instagram is often just an illusion – and a distracting one at that.
For menswear designer Paria Farzaneh, paying attention to yourself and your work – and not the noise other people are making around you – is a key life lesson that she has learned living and working in London. Citing David Lynch as one of her greatest influences, she advises that watching as many films as possible can be impactful on your creative mindset. “You feel transported into this world he’s created for you, and that really resonates with what I’m trying to do,” she says of the director. Farzaneh also recommends letting productivity flow naturally: “if it comes it comes, if it doesn’t it doesn’t – you can’t play with fate.”
Maria Falbo is the mastermind behind Copson, a skatewear brand inspired by summers spent the south of Italy, where her family hails from. A passionate skater herself, she has travelled the world, meeting like-minded people who have grown into a network who she calls on for inspiration. “At the moment I’m looking at spirituality and ritual,” she shares. “I’ve seen too much online, so now I’m taking it offline and trying to find inspiration.” Oh, and, wearing loose-fitting clothing that doesn’t restrict her movement – both on and off the skate ramp – is one of her greatest tips to feeling empowered and in control.
FENG CHEN WANG
Leading a new generation of fashion talent, Chinese-born Feng Chen Wang graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2015, and now designs futuristic, unisex clothing that has sashayed down the catwalks of both NYFW and LFW. “I’m inspired by my own story,” she said, when we visited her in her studio. But Chen Wang also advises listening to the words of wisdom from your closest friends and creative peers when it comes to making it in fashion. “This will help you to build yourself up and become stronger,” she continues.
“Usually the things that inspire me are the things that happen in everyday life,” comments emerging musician and songwriter Celeste on finding poetry in even the most ‘mundane’ situations. Using visual references to tell stories through sound, the Lately singer doesn’t believe in a creative block, noting that paying attention to your mood is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to writing lyrics and music. She also emphasises the importance of staying true to yourself and letting that authenticity shine through in your work.
Follow @converse_london to see how young creatives continue to Spark Progress around the city.