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Get Stung By Mandy Coon

The New Yorker’s jellyfish-inspired collection cements Coon as part of the city’s new generation of designers

The model/DJ turned designer does not have a blazing precedent to go by but Mandy Coon isn’t here to impress upon us the importance of that career trajectory. With three seasons under her belt, her S/S 11 collection inspired by jellyfish has garnered her enough attention to be seen as one of New York’s exciting young fashion talents proven by the fact that she has also recently won the prestigious Ecco Domani Fashion Fund award. Whilst jellyfish is the collection’s keyword, the actual clothes only subtly suggest the diaphanous and bubble-shaped qualities of the sea creature and rather, the focus is on Coon’s feel for dark-edged draping and quiet yet impactful silhouettes.

The collection is further enhanced by a set of lookbook images photographed by Ruvan Wijesooriy who has shot for the likes of Paul Smith and Vogue. We speak to Ruvan about his collaboration with Mandy as well as the woman herself to ask her about her fear and fascination with jellyfish as well as that bunny bag from her last collection which has become something of a piece of fashion cult arm candy.

Dazed Digital: Where did the initial reference point of jellyfish come from for the collection?
Mandy Coon:
I am terrified of jellyfish, but I also find them so incredibly beautiful. I vacationed in Tulum a few weeks after my last show and while there, I was completely enchanted by these haunting creatures, reconnecting me with this childhood fascination.

DD: How has this collection progressed from your last and do you feel that Mandy Coon as a label has settled into a signature style?
Mandy Coon:
I think that this collection was a bit lighter, maybe more playful. I think I am definitely getting closer- I try to always keep my pieces structural, yet playful, always adding a little wink to them.

DD: You created what became an underground cult item in the form of the leather bunny bag from your last collection - how did that come about and do you think it has given your brand more recognition?
Mandy Coon:
The bunny bag was born out of a fantastic stuffed rabbit purse carried by Shirley Maclaine's character in the 1958 film Some Came Running. Her character clutched this bag throughout the movie, constantly reaching inside the clutch to fetch her tiny compact and powder her nose. At the time, I thought that people might think I had lost my mind with this bag, but I am glad that so many people have been so excited by it!

DD: Do you have any influences (designers, artists, other creatives...) that inform your work?
Mandy Coon:
Definitely - Helmut Newton, Deborah Turbeville, ManRay, Pamela Sunday's sculptures...

DD: Can you tell us anything about A/W 11?
Mandy Coon:
I don’t want to reveal too much, but I will say that the collection is very chic, although dark. There is a lot to look forward to - a jewellery collaboration with Made Her Think with some amazing statement pieces, also a few key handbags and an amazing print.

Dazed Digital: How did the collaboration with Mandy come about?
Ruvan Wijesooriya
: Mandy has been familiar with my work for a while now; sometime last August she emailed me asking to shoot her lookbook. The pictures I make for lookbooks generally suit their purpose best when they are literal and explain the design and function of the clothing. We decided it would be worthwhile to shoot a more “editorial” take on her collection.

DD: Did you take Mandy's inspiration point - jellyfish - into consideration when photographing the models and the clothes?
Ruvan Wijesooriya :
I did and I didn’t. I didn’t want to be too literal about the jellyfish, but at the same time in the pictures you see where the model is covered in the sheer fabric – it hints at that translucent, glowing layer found in many jellyfish. I think the futurism and otherworldliness of the jellyfish took some kind of hold; I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that the earth was once completely covered by water, that sea creature fossils are found in deserts and that jellyfish have been on the earth for countless years. The landscapes that I put into the mix were meant to add to this otherworldliness, to take Mandy’s collection and place this jellyfish-inspired character in a new context.

DD: What projects are you working on at the moment?
Ruvan Wijesooriya:
The most immediate thing I am working on is my exhibition, Dearest of Dearest, coming up at ION Studio.

Dearest of Dearest is exhibiting at ION Studio, 41 Wooster Street in SoHo, NYC from Feb 9 - Feb 23, 2011.