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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

David Longshaw, Father Said: New S/S 2012 Season Preview Interview

Designer David Longshaw talks us through the narratives and themes of his latest collection, plus an insight into running your own label!

Written by Amelia Gregory

David Longshaw S/S 2012 by Abi Hall
David Longshaw S/S 2012 by Abi Hall.

We’ve been following David Longshaw‘s career since we spotted him at Fashion Scout back in 2010. His work continues to evolve in intriguing directions, utilising his illustration and animations skills more than ever before…

We last spoke to you in 2010, what have been the biggest changes since then?
I’m now selling in Harrods as well as more shops in a variety of countries.

David Longshaw SS 2012
What was the inspiration behind Father Said, your S/S 2012 collection, and where does the accompanying story come from? (it’s quite dark!)
I created the story a few years ago for TANK magazine – but never used it for a collection. This season felt like the perfect time to use it and develop the characters. The story is a bit dark – but I think it can be fun to have a dark inspiration from time to time for something as frivolous and light as fashion – I like the contradiction. Here’s the story:

Father said it would have been… by David Longshaw
Father said it would be nice to go to the seaside. I’m not sure mother would have agreed; here I go getting all Alan Bennett. It wasn’t Alan Bennett like at all. That’s why I brought you here, a little nostalgic trip for me, unchartered territory for you. I was driving of course. Well you’d come to see me hadn’t you?
I didn’t expect it to happen. You know I didn’t. I hadn’t planned it. I mean I was all tired out from the drive. It was just these memories coming back that did it. I hadn’t told you about them had I?
“We could go round the castle you said,” but then we spied the purveyor of local delicacies and were ensnared by the intoxicating aroma.
Well, it would have been rude not to.

David Longshaw S/S 2012 by Mitika Chohan
David Longshaw S/S 2012 by Mitika Chohan.

Monies were exchanged and we floated out on the emerald green sea of tiles, shimmering from the hedgehog that had just mopped them. It was you who pointed out she was a hedgehog- all little and bristly and nose twitching as she mopped that chip shop floor; scared by the preying silver fox in the corner (Trevor they called him from over the counter) with his suave, debonair mask- under which lurked a wild, preying animal ready for its next victim. At least that’s how he looked, sitting, pouting but that gentle trickle of saliva and the abstract motif that speckled his jacket- formed from chips and gravy, suggested otherwise.
We did laugh about that, chuckling, as you do, walking towards the sea. You spotted that sign, “Boat Trip to Puffin Island.” £4.50 each, but it was worth it. We saw seals, and jellyfish and went up really close to the island and there were so many little birds. I’m not sure if there were any puffins though, you said you’d seen one but that was you all over.
I’m sorry the rest of the day didn’t pan out quite as well for you. It’s just these memories coming back. Now I think of it, I was reading a book at the time with a puffin mentioned in it, so perhaps that’s what it was.
I’m awfully sorry all the same. Anyway not much I can do now other than tidy things up I suppose. Well there you go. You’re wrapped up now. It was handy I had that spade in the boot wasn’t it. I’ll just cover you up- the soil will keep you warm.”

David Longshaw SS 2012

How did you put together the animation for Father Said and why did you decide to put the story together in animated form?
I’ve always been fascinated by animation – I love creating characters and the idea of bringing them to life for people to watch in a little version of my world. It’s a massively time consuming medium – even for something as crudely done as mine, but that’s part of its beauty. I thought it was a natural next step for me to explore animation as I create a story and illustrate it each season. It’s a fun tool to explain my collection and to build interest in my label, and it’s a point of differentiation. There are so many fashion labels out there and the big fashion houses have huge adverting budgets to promote their collections – so by doing something creative it helps showcase my ideas and the plan is that people will hopefully enjoy what I do and want to keep seeing more.

David Longshaw SS12 by Janneke de Jong
David Longshaw S/S 2012 by Janneke de Jong.

Putting it together was tricky as I’d never done it before and I thought it would be fun to do it all myself from a series of my illustrations (apart from the voice over which I got Jessica Bumpus to do). I did it using a very old mac – which seemed a good idea at the time until it became apparent that it was so old it wasn’t compatible with any others, or with upload programs to put it on Vimeo… which was unfortunate. But after a lot of pfaffing around I finally managed to get it on there and now it’s linked to my website as well. In the short term I’m planning to work on more short animations to develop with my collections. At some point in the future I would like to work on a more ambitious project with a much larger animation – perhaps even a stop motion model animation But I’d need a larger budget and a lot more time.

David Longshaw SS 2012
Why are narratives important?
Narratives help create the theme and tone of the collection – they inform everything from print and silhouette to the colour of the fabrics.

David Longshaw SS 2012
What was the inspiration behind the extravagant silhouettes in the S/S 2012 collection?
The idea was from the point in the story where Sophie accidentally kills her boyfriend, buries him, planting flowers over his burial place. The flowers grow and flow in to the dress she’s wearing. For the rest of her life she wears a flower to remind her of him. I wanted to convey the sense of the flowers growing and taking over what the wearer has on.

David Longshaw SS12 by Janneke de Jong
David Longshaw S/S 2012 by Janneke de Jong.

How did your time at Max Mara equip you for working as an independent designer, and do you have any tips for those just starting out?
My time at both Max Mara and Alberta Ferretti was really useful for starting my own label – aesthetically my style (and indeed the style of the other labels) are very different, but in a way that works out better than if I was just doing a smaller version of either label. Day to day there are things I put in to practice that I learnt there. When you work for big fashion houses you get to see how very successful businesses and design houses work and what’s helped them to get there. But there’s always things you think you would do differently as well.

David Longshaw SS 2012
For people just starting out it’s good to get as much experience in the industry as possible, whether it’s from work experience, or actually designing for a label – if you want to start your own label straight away then try to get as much business advice as you can. Design schools teach how to pull a collection together but you have to know how to be a business person – if you don’t then you won’t have the money or the structure to be able to continue. It’s also really important to think what you want your label to be like – what’s your point of difference and what do you think you can do better than is already out there. It’s good to be aware of all the pitfalls with running your own label: financial, emotional, time constraints, constantly questioning yourself, knowing all the things that can go wrong, all the reasons not to do your own label… Then just go for it anyway!

David Longshaw S/S 2012 by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs
David Longshaw S/S 2012 by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs.

You are not just a fashion designer but also an accomplished illustrator, how do the two fit together?
They go well together – I use my illustrations in the prints of my collection. Both my design and illustration work inspire each other. When I illustrate for a mag it’s a fun way for people to see my work and see which other designers I like (as I get to select who I interview or illustrate) and it gives people another window in to my thinking. Then when I’m designing I think back to my illustration work and why I selected certain designers/pieces. I’m not trying to be like another designer but it makes me reflect on why I would choose one designer’s work over another.

David Longshaw SS 2012
How do your partnerships with footwear designer Heather Blake and milliner Katherine Lee work? What is the process of working together on a collection?
With Katherine Lee we work together throughout the season on different projects for the collection – from looking and reviewing the collection’s designs and progress to specific pieces she creates for me. With Heather we look at my designs and work out what would be cool to go with them – what elements we can bring out from the clothes and in to the shoes.

David Longshaw S/S 2012 by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs
David Longshaw S/S 2012 by Maria Papadimitriou aka Slowly The Eggs.

You also collaborate with girlfriend (and another Amelia’s Mag favourite) Kirsty Ward. How was the Christmas break with the Longshaw Wards? Did you do anything fun?
Christmas was great: there was a Maude fairy on top of the tree – there was still some pfaffing around with fabrics and pens (aka work) but also lots of fun – road trips to visit our families and friends. Then on New Year’s Eve we had a studio party in London and had some friends over.

David Longshaw SS 2012
What can we expect from A/W 2012? any tips?
More Maude: this season Maude’s taken over my collection and mashed it up with her own style… so basically she’s covered most of it with herself – from prints to bags, to scarves, to products…

David Longshaw SS 2012
Make sure you also check out our previous interview with David Longshaw here.

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