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London Fashion Week S/S 2011 Catwalk Review: Tim Soar

Tim Soar returns to London Fashion Week's Menswear Day with his unique blend of conceptual tailoring and super sexy materials - illustrated by Abby Wright!

Written by Matt Bramford

All Images: Katherine Tulloh, nurse website courtesy of the artist and Transition Gallery

For a new exhibition of film and drawings at East London’s Transition Gallery, sales Katherine Tulloh explores the possibility of a hidden system of codes within Alchemist drawings and the dream diaries created by Swedish Natural Scientist, Swedenborg. In the aftermath of a crisis of spirituality, Swedenborg began researching -with academic rigour- the possibility of an “‘ultra-terrestrial’ London, a secondary city in which spirits inhabited their past lives.

Amelia’s Magazine spoke to Katherine about her interest in writers who utilise London as a character within their own stories and her visualisation of writing through the moving and static image.

Your exhibition at Transition Gallery explores the dream diaries of the Swedish Naturalist Swedenborg. How did you discover the dream journals?

I went into the Swedenborg Society bookshop out of curiosity, I like that part of town (Bloomsbury). It is also near to where Poe lived in London and The Conway Hall. I loved the imagery in the dream diary and the struggle between reason and imagination.

Previously your illustrations and films have explored the literary landscapes of Poe and Baudelaire – what drew you towards visualising their writings?

They are both writers who utilise the city as a character within their own mythology. They blur the line between the now and another world. There is an atmosphere of insubstantial things, essences and emanations, of beauty as a manifestation of a perpetual beyond. Of smoke, fogs, shimmering obfuscations and of a moon setting sail over the city. Through their absent, distant world, I can better see my own city, with its scuffed, graffiti-layered surfaces—another forest of symbols, veilings and half-read signs, a world of unstable meanings, porous images which flow into each other.

Your exhibitions contain both the static and moving image, how would you describe your relationship to these methods of representation?

The drawn images both in the show and the film are an attempt to crystallise a particular idea or thought. The moving three dimensional fimed sections are more about conjuring up a state of mind or world

What possibilities of expression or narrative does film offer over the static image or vice versa?

I can be more open ended with film. When I’m making the images for my film, I create sets and project light and images into them and take hundreds of pictures, so I often end up with something very different from what I began with, film allows me to juxtapose and arrange images and have more than one thing going on at the same time by appealing to both the eyes and the ears. It also overlays images so someone’s impression of the film is a group of visual memories

The sets of the film resemble Victorian Children’s Theatre, possibly a stage for shadow puppets, is this a design inspired by research or relationship to the themes within the films?

I think my Poe film was more theatrical because his writing is very stagey and melodramatic

Where did you study?

Cambridge University and Chelsea College of Art and Design, I studied English BA and Fine Art Painting, which represents both sides of my work really, the literary ideas and the practical realisation.

Which illustrators, artists or filmakers inspire or are used as reference within your work?

The Quay Brothers, David Lynch, Kiki Smith, Paul Klee, Marcel Proust, Goya, Leonardo Da Vinci, Henry Darger

Have you seen Jan Svankmaker’s Alice? It has a similar enigmatic mood as created by your short films.

Yes, I have seen it and I very much like it so I’ll take that as a compliment.

What do you find interesting about Alchemic Drawings or the relationship between Science and Faith?

I like the use of Heiroglyphic language in Alchemy, the linking of the rational and the irrational and the idea that the smallest thing is linked to the greatest, the idea that the whole universe is a code where everything is both itself and something else.

Watercolours are frequently used within your drawings, what attracts you to the medium?

They’re very bright – I use radiant watercolour inks. also I like their irreversableness

Hermetickal is at Transition Gallery until 21st November.
Opening Times: Friday to Sunday 12-6pm.

Illustration by Abby Wright

It’s always a treat at Fashion Week to find that the show you are about to see, side effects starting in the next few minutes, and is at a totally different venue to the one you had in your head and are currently standing at. I found myself in this marvellous situation as Tim Soar‘s show approached. God knows why I thought it was at Somerset House and not at the Freemason’s Hall. Menswear day brought these kind of surprises all day – with many designers scaling down their presence. I had seen Tim’s show a year ago in the BFC tent, so how dare they move its location?!

I need not have worried as I legged it up Drury Lane, for, true to form, the show was running late and hadn’t even been seated when I showed up. I was right at the back of the queue, though – AGAIN – so decided to perch by the photographer’s pit in the hope of getting a better shot than I would have positioned on one of the back rows.

This show saw Soar draw inspiration from the 1970s, and in particular David Bowie’s character ‘Mr Newton’ in Nicholas Roeg’s epic ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth.’ This inspiration was, in true Tim Soar style, handled with delicacy and acted only as a descrete reference here and there. Trousers flared off, but not in a grotesque fancy dress sense, and lapels were elongated, but not in a Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive, Hah Hah Hah Hah sense. The bulk of the collection relied on Soar’s showmanship as a really great tailor with a unique vision.

Illustration by Abby Wright

Making the best use of luxe fabrics like mohair, satin, wool crepe and linen, models wore strict suits with a piecemeal utilitarian aesthetic. The use of Tyvek, the waxy crushed industrial material usually reserved for workers boiler suits, also adds to this technical flavour.

Blazers were banded with cummerbund-like straps in contrasting colours – where jackets were dark, the bands were of gold silk, and where jackets were sand, the bands were black. Denim made an appearance, also creating horizontal lines across structured tailoring.

Alongside this semi-formal attire, there were the usual design quirks that Tim Soar is quickly faming himself for. His appreciation of the aesthetic properties of materials and quality of texture was also on display, with crushed materials and bursts of vibrant colour (he is, after all, also a graphic designer).

It’s hard to imagine how a Tyvek jailer-style striped suit will work alongside an exemplary tailored blazer, but somehow Tim Soar’s collections always convey a stylish coherence.

This season also brought more womenswear, which is basically menswear with allowances for hips, busts and bums. It’s a testament to Tim Soar’s generally cool attitude, though, that his aesthetic works wonders on both women and men.

All photography by Matt Bramford


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