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clifford jago sunflower children ukraine fashion styling 10
Zvan & The Garden of Soviet DelightsCourtesy of Clifford Jago

Fictitious stylist Clifford Jago shares the madness behind his new book

The elusive, non-existent creative explains the process behind the Ukraine-set ‘Clifford Jago & the Sunflower Children’

Last year, eccentric and entirely fictitious stylist Clifford Jago – the self-described “Messiah of the fashion cupboard” – released his second project, Clifford Jago & The Ice Queens. The visual feast of a book was shot around Iceland and filled with models wearing McDonald’s paraphernalia and banana cones as lewks. 

Now, Jago is back, with a new book entitled Clifford Jago & the Sunflower Children – this time shot on a trip to Ukraine with a segue into Poland. “After the Iceland project we didn’t really have a solid idea for where to do the next book,” Clifford Jago Creative Studio, the team behind the stylist explain. “We did some research into Kiev and began to fall in love with the idea more and more. It’s a really raw mix of artistic creatives and political undercurrents that make the place exciting and volatile.” 

Shot over five days, the stylist collaborated with a number of locals scouted prior to arrival. From the Kite Girls of Odessa to Ukrainian singer Ivan Dorn (who appears as a pink Power Ranger), the images are just as wild as Jago’s previous projects and see everything from sunflower heads and toy cars utilised as styling items. 

“From the moment we touch down we are constantly looking for interesting objects, materials, and people,” the team continues. “We really love to bounce from one situation to the next and let it all unfold naturally, often letting the people we meet influence where it goes.” 

This attitude is illustrated further through the graphics for the book, a mish-mash of weird, glitchy images and cartoons. “We really wanted to inject a fun cartoon element to the book and have different artists react to the outfits and Ukrainian theme,” says the team. 

Here, in his own words, Jago lets us in on his creative process and styling secrets from his newest project.


“The master of the controversial drop – Ivan Dorn is the king of eastern European disco-pop. With a big legacy surrounding him, I still doubted he could keep up with my ridiculous flow, but man has this guy got skills. Where Tommy was the perfect specimen for the green Ranger, I saw Ivan as a worthy representation of the pink angel Ranger – considering all his work based around gender roles.

With the wings and a Ranger suit, I was well on my way to styling up an absolute shit storm (in a good way). Combine this with some pink football boots and damn, I’m a pop culture icon. 

Now Ivan was at full power it was time to scream to the song Spacer Woman.mp3 while the adoring public looked on and leaked the whole shoot to local music magazines... Sometimes you create gold and others want the gold, so they take the gold and then pass it to a friend or even want to grow your gold as their own, that’s fine but you gotta have the recipe, skrt skrt.”


“I found Alexandra through an article I read about her being the world’s first wheelchair model, it was to my delight she lived in Ukraine so we arranged to meet up in the middle of Kiev. I arrived with 100 balloons in one arm and an arrangement of flowers in the other. After realising it looked like it’s Alexandra’s big birthday to those around us we tested our luck and blagged our way on top of a boujie hotel rooftop with a live orchestra.

To my absolute shock and disbelief, as we got to the top of the stairs I found a life-sized Metal Mario staring at me. This was a sign from the gods to say: ‘hey buddy, you’re on the right path, keep this funk train rolling’. I knew my destiny was unfolding in front of my very own eyes, despite all my bullshit to get here. After a quick Aperol Spritz, Alex and I got to work. The magic of the balloons in the setting was too good, I tied them all to Alex’s hair, so the helium of all 100 balloons were lifting her locks into a pointy cone that would make Jimmy Neutron proud. What a spectacle! 

What happened next nearly broke my heart. When the photograph was about to be taken the balloon string came loose from the hair and an audience of drinkers on the rooftop looked on as 100 balloons flew away into the night sky. I felt like Gareth Southgate after his penalty at Euro 96, there was no coming back from this, except from my easyJet in three days time.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose 100 helium balloons. Such is life.”


“While I was in Kiev I got invited into the home of our producer’s mother, where she let me explore her many treasures in her holiday home in the countryside. The attic and garden were full of treasures for me to play with and Zvan had the perfect energy to pull them off.

Meeting Zvan was a revelation as she made so much sense with the project. Her playful character reflected my styling; she is Jago’s Kate Moss. Introducing, Zvan Moss everybody. She arrived a little late due to mushroom picking the night before, but it’s cool I let her off.

As the homeowner sunbathed on the hammock, I had a lot of work cut out for me. I assembled a floordrobe of all the things I thought made sense in the environment. My favourite being the big yellow toy car which actually ended up being a cover. This is how a proper cover is done ;)

The old Ukrainian rug made for the perfect long split skirt. I’m not going to lie, when you want to reference a classic Vogue image it’s hard to do it without a good pair of heels or long boots. I thought the fucking lawnmower would finish the job though and I feel like it did.”


“No casting director in their right mind wants to help me put a book together and that’s OK – no casting director would cast talent from searching for the top 10 fitness Instagrams in Ukraine. It’s their loss, not mine.

I came across the Instagram of the Kite Girls of Odessa, four Eastern European kite surfer mums who refuse to not live their lives exactly how they want. I found this so amazing and had to meet them. Their Instagram account usually depicts them kite surfing and looking like mega babes in matching outfits, this captured my imagination as the ultimate girl squad.

After catching a nine-hour night train – which felt like the Hogwarts Express with my own little cabin – I arrived in the city of Odessa, known as the pearl of the Black Sea. I met the Kite Girls for a coffee, and with one member down – she had her kid’s first day at school – we marched to their favourite location for perfect winds hoping to capture their huge colourful kites in action on the water. Unfortunately, the wind was not perfect, so instead, I embraced their equipment and uniforms to create the alternative sports squad photo. Elena, Marina, Juliya, and Karina, I believe you can fly.”


“After a magnificent adventure with all the Sunflower Children and special guests, it was my time to fly back. The first stop was Poland from Odessa to stay in an airport hotel and then fly back to London the next day.

After the best swim and sauna, it was time for a good sleep and the sleep was so good I missed my flight in the morning and had to stay in Poland until the next flight home. Instead of admitting defeat and beating myself up, I went to Charlotte’s cafe in the middle of Warsaw to find my groove... and some WiFi.

After a little research, I left and took a bus to find AS Management, a lovely guy named Marko answered the door. I explained I was stuck in Poland and would like to test some models. Luckily a girl named Nancy was in town and was free four hours later. After shedding my skin and recycling all my clothes and props in a supermarket car park in Ukraine, I had to go out and find more ‘clothes’. 

I kinda like showing up to shoot with an empty styling rail, but my advantage was that the local fruit store sorted me out in 10 minutes. I managed to gather some coloured plastic bags and large accessories like sunflower seed heads, pumpkins, and cabbages. We found a water fountain which was creating a rainbow with the direct sunlight. Inspired by the colours I made an outfit of the bags to match the rainbow.

My work was done. I quickly said goodbye... I was not missing my flight home this time.”

‘Clifford Jago & The Sunflower Children’ launches on Thursday July 11 in collaboration with Hart Club – a new gallery that champions neurodiversity within the Arts. 50 per cent of the proceeds will go towards supporting it.