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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Simeon Farrar, The Great British Summertime: New S/S 2012 Season Preview Interview

London-based Designer and Artist Simeon Farrar talks about his journey from Art to Fashion and back again, his current S/S 2012 collection ‘The Great British Summertime’ and what we can look forward to from the label next season.

Written by Alia Gargum

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Madi Illustrates
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Madi Illustrates

What began as an ‘art experiment’ by London-based Simeon Farrar has now turned into a successful fashion label; winning not only international acclaim but also the prestigious NEWGEN award three times along the way. Despite being crowned a fashion buyer favourite with stockists such as Liberty in the UK and many more in Paris, Tokyo, and Sydney (to name a few), Simeon hasn’t lost sight of his Fine Art training gained at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham. Every collection begins with a philosophical root from which the designs and drawings develop and each one-off piece is then created with Simeon’s trademark dash of humour delivered through experiments with colour and print, done by hand in his Shoreditch studio.

Simeon Farrar
Simeon Farrar, all photographs courtesy of Iroquois PR

As someone who trained as a fine artist, what was it that made you want to turn your hand from canvas and paper to fabric?
I’ve always been into printmaking and I used to use a lot of screen-printing in my paintings. I would load them up with all sorts of images and paint over them to form multiple layers. I started putting some of these images on to t-shirts purely as another surface rather than as fashion. The first t-shirts were so loaded with paint like the canvases that they could never be worn. I got so into this that it soon evolved into fashion.

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by JL Illustration
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Jason Lear

As a ‘non-fashion’ person, did you expect to make such a big impression when you first exhibited at London Fashion Week?
Absolutely not. I had no idea what people would think of me. I didn’t even have an order book so I guess I didn’t expect to write any orders. Suddenly I had all these people wanting to order this junk I’d made which I found all a bit weird. It was still an art experiment at that point.

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Abi Hall
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Abi Hall

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about being a designer and the way the world of Fashion works?
As an artist you develop a certain degree of snobbery towards anything that isn’t ‘Art’. I can safely say that I have been cleansed of that snobbery after being welcomed so openly into the fashion world. I’ve learned that it’s all a load of rubbish and an artist just does what ever he/she feels is the most honest path for their creativity and it doesn’t need a label to make it valid.

Neon Butterfly Chiffon Maxi
Butterfly Chiffon Maxi

Your ‘Kate Mouse‘ illustration has become a widely recognised and coveted t-shirt graphic. Why do you think it’s had so much success?
For me it was one of those magical moments when an image just works perfectly. I’d drawn the image for a nursery rhyme collection we were doing at the time and I wanted to do Three Blind Mice. So, to name the file on Photoshop I used ‘Kate Mouse’ so I would recognise it. Then it just clicked, like a light bulb coming on above my head. I think it’s been a success for the same reason. It’s not forced or contrived, just simple and genius. There’s been such a demand ever since her birth that she’s featured in every collection since, with various additions. She gets pimped up every season. Except this forthcoming A/W 2012.

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Alia Gargum
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Alia Gargum

What personally inspired you to create a ‘Kate Mouse’ t-shirt with Net-A-Porter especially for the Japan Earthquake relief appeal?
Two of my staff are Japanese and they have been with me for years so due to that I feel a certain closeness with Japan. We sell a lot in Japan, and since I began the label the Japanese have been so supportive and loyal to my brand that when the earthquake hit it felt like an opportunity to repay some of that. The Kate Mouse print was our obvious big hitter, so I thought it would make the most money if we offered it for the appeal. We did it by ourselves at first, offering a free t-shirt with every donation to Save The Children. That went very well but as we were paying postage we had to limit it to the UK only. My PR company Iroquois and I approached Net-A-Porter so we could take it further. They were amazing with how they took it up and offered so much percentage of the profit to the appeal. I was very impressed with their instant generosity.

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Dana Bocai
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Dana Bocai

Your current S/S 2012 collection not only has your own charming take on the uniquely temperamental British summer through neon colours, raindrop prints and a nod to the new Royalty, but a uniquely feel-good quote that runs throughout. How did the slogan ‘You Are My Silver Lining’ form in your head?
There is always a sense of romance in my collections, and no matter what the theme I always like to bring that in. I like the idea of someone being your Silver Lining. No matter what happens in life there is someone who’s very presence brings with it a sense of hope or a way out of darkness.

Slogan Print Tote with Leather Handles
Slogan Print Tote with Leather Handles

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Alejandra Espino
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Alejandra Espino

What are your favourite colours to print in (at the moment) and why?
I loved using the neon colours in the S/S 2012 collection. I like printing images in neon then overlaying that with a black print and washing it all out so the greys defuse the neon a bit.

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Mitika Chohan
Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Mitika Chohan
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Mitika Chohan

What can we expect for A/W 2012 from Simeon Farrar?
For S/S 2012 we had a ghost print that did very well, so I’ve built the next collection round that. So I guess it’s a Haunted House collection. We’ve got lots of ghost drawings, howling wolves, that kind of thing. But, there’s also a romantic side to it. I’ve always been interested in the tragic side of vampires and the sense of undying love that runs through it. So I’ve brought a lot of that in to the collection. And for the first time, NO KATE MOUSE. I didn’t want to cheapen her and put some fangs on her or something. Kate Mouse is dead, you heard it here first.

Cloud Print Tote Bag
Cloud Print Tote Bag

Simeon Farrar Spring/Summer 2012 by Gareth A Hopkins
Simeon Farrar S/S 2012 by Gareth A Hopkins

Simeon Farrar’s current S/S 2012 collection is available to buy in store and online at a variety of stockists, and his forthcoming A/W 2012 collection will be exhibited at Tranoi this March.

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