All this week we’re featuring shoots and interviews from Leica’s S-Mag and today photographer Lorenzo Dalbosco brings an industrial edge to Bobby Abley’s playful AW13 collection.
Enchanted by Disneyland, and with a penchant for fusing cartoons and bondage, Bobby Abley is certainly an enigma in menswear. Already endorsed by both Vivienne Westwood and Lulu Kennedy the young Ravensbourne graduate launched his first collection for MAN earlier this year and is showing no signs of slowing down.
TELL ME WHEN YOUR FASCINATION WITH FASHION BEGAN.
My mum was always really into fashion. She wasn’t creative in the way a designer is but she was still really expressive, especially for someone living in Scarborough! She had her own thing going on and she would take me shopping and I started to really appreciate clothes through what she was wearing, I particularly remember a Givenchy outfit she had. My grandma was also good with a sewing machine and used to make me clothes, which piqued my interest in the actual process of designing.
LOTS OF YOUR WORK CONTAINS CARTOON ELEMENTS, WHY HAVE THEY HAD SUCH A PROFOUND INFLUENCE ON YOUR WORK?
First of all I love Ariel from The Little Mermaid, she’s my ideal woman, I watched that film on repeat with my sister so many times. I also think it’s nice to remember being a kid, and so things like Mickey Mouse or Disney, remind people of more carefree times, and I like that to come through in my work. I’m not a very morbid designer, I like to keep it light.
AND DISNEYLAND IS ALSO A BIG INFLUENCE ON YOUR CREATIVE SIDE?
Last year I went nine times. I actually think one of the staff members recognised me on the fifth visit. I genuinely go because it does help me come up with ideas for designs, just because everything is so make-believe; the trees are square, there’s a big pink castle and you’re just removed from reality so can create something completely unique. Being in Disneyland, because it’s just so unreal, makes me forget about the real world.
YOU’RE FROM SCARBOROUGH, DO YOU THINK IT HAS A DIFFERENT AESTHETIC TO THE SOUTH?
It’s very black and white up there, and that’s the nicest way I can put it. My family is there but it’s not a good place to be creative.That’s why as soon as I got the chance I moved.
WHAT MADE YOU PURSUE FASHION AS A CAREER?
It’s difficult to say because I can paint and draw, and thought I was going to try and be an artist originally. I got a sewing machine and was doing embroidery on it, just for art purposes. But when those twisted Levi’s came out I really wanted a pair and so I just studied how they were made, taught myself to sew, and made a pair.There was no turning back from there.
YOU WENT TO RAVENSBOURNE, WHY CHOOSE THERE OVER OTHER FASHION COLLEGES?
I think Saint Martin’s is amazing but I think it rides a lot on its name and the people that were there twenty years ago, like McQueen and Galliano, and that’s still how they sell it. I was probably just being really stubborn at the time and thought ‘I’m not going to go there’.
AND IT WAS GOOD?
It was until about the third year when I avoided the tutors for a year because I was really specific about how I wanted my final collection to look and they said ‘if you want to be in the fashion industry, you need to change your idea’, which I didn’t agree with.
VIVIENNE WESTWOOD PRAISED YOUR FINAL COLLECTION THOUGH, HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?
Straight after the graduate show she came backstage, and she was just like ‘amazing show, well done’. She said she really appreciated the strong visual impact. It was like seeing the Queen. She kind of is the Queen in fashion terms.
YOU HAVE A VERY PERSONAL VISION, HOW ELSE WOULD YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO?
It’s definitely how I’m feeling at the time, and I try to keep it honest but not too overly conceptual. I always think about what I would like to wear, so I guess that makes me quite a selfish designer. My clothes aren’t for everybody, I know that.
WHO IS YOUR DESIGN ICON THEN?
It’s funny because I don’t look at a lot of fashion, and I don’t look at design for inspiration. But I think the designers that I appreciate are definitely Jeremy Scott, and I used to like what Jean Charles de Castelbajac was doing a few seasons ago. He was really into cartoons and his shows were massive productions.
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