It is no secret that fashion can often be stuffy, elitist and downright snobby. When it comes to a 23-piece collection made for the masses, there’s little sense of fun, with designers old and new opting to play it safe in favour of hyper-commercial designs. But for designer Ed Curtis, fun is at the forefront.
After graduating from London College of Fashion (where he enjoyed a placement year with Marc Jacobs), the designer honed his craft working with Hillier Bartley before launching his own eponymous brand. With vibrant prints, playful knitwear and extreme silhouettes, Curtis shuns monochrome and only refers to the most vibrant of swatches, saying that he “feels nothing” if he works in neutral tones.
His latest collection, ART SALE, is arguably his most ambitious yet. With a mixture of knitwear, dresses and sportswear, the collection allows him to fully exercise his creative muscle and realise his ambitions of being a fully functioning brand. With styling from FKA twigs collaborator Matthew Josephs, the campaign images are a playground of chaotic scribbles, with Curtis’ own artistry seen throughout. Describing the scene as “the ultimate fashion art attack”, Ed Curtis is here to add a big splash of colour to a dreary Autumn / Winter.
How are things? How have you filled your summer?
Things are going well, I’ve just launched my new collection, a project I’d been working on since January. It feels good to set it free. Summer has been consumed by finishing this collection and also a very exciting collaboration I have coming out next month.
Do you remember the first fashion piece that you were obsessed with?
Probably Henry Holland’s 2006 collection with all the slogan t-shirts, I was 14 and wanted it so bad! luckily for me Topman jumped on it and it became very much part of my scene look.
Everything you create is often bold and bright, and there’s a big element of playfulness to your designs, how did that come to manifest in your work?
I genuinely get a tingly feeling when I see something made in vibrant colours, I’m like a magpie to colour and always have been, whether it be flowers or clothes, I just love it. If I ever make something in a neutral colour I feel nothing.
You’ve just launched your new collection. Tell us a little bit about that?
ART SALE is a project I started in January. I took the time this year to work on something bigger and what I felt had more depth. It’s the first time I’ve worked on knitwear, dresses and sportswear! It really felt like time to fully flex my fashion and art capabilities and create the full Ed Curtis world. The process has been free-flowing and chaotic with the intention of creating a body of work full of incredibly special pieces, every single piece has to feel 100% special, something you’d want to keep forever.
Art seems to play a big part in your creative process. What comes first, art or design?
For me there is no separation, I don’t generally consider myself creating art but my way of working is more in line with how an artist would work. Art allows me to create with no constraints and applying that to fashion grounds the process.
Talk me through the inspiration behind your designs?
The collection indulges in multiple contrasting artworks. A mash-up of hand-painted, screen and digital artworks combine as tools that create the ultimate fashion art attack. Memories of my childhood holidays, theme park rides and working in a jungle gym as a teenager burst onto the fabrics. Galaxies, smiley faces, paint splodges and warped artworks have been curated into an explosive collection.
How would you describe the Ed Curtis customer?
Someone who wants something so iconic and special they’ll never part ways with it, it’ll be passed down like an heirloom.
The Lizzie Jumper seems to be the hero piece from the new collection. Tell us a little bit about that.
Thank you for saying that! It’s 100% the hero piece. I made the decision at the beginning of the project to work with craftsmen who could apply my ideas into really wearable items. It was the piece I worked on the longest. From sheep to jumper, it’s all from the UK.
Is there one piece that you’ve designed, from a collection new or old, that you’re particularly obsessed with?
There is this puffer jacket I made for this collection that uses fabric I’ve been printing on for the last two years, it’s what’s called a backing cloth and shows hundreds of different prints all layered on top of each other. I wanted to re-frame it into something recognisable to most people so that’s why I chose a puffer. That’s also a fun part of my process is working out what garments the prints should be made into.
Where are you hoping to take the brand and what are your plans for the future?
I’d like to work on an IRL experience that’s part jungle gym/exhibition/theme park. Everything so far has existed digitally but I’d like people to interact with it in a physical way but have loads of fun, whatever it is there needs to be slides and balls pits.
Finally, our new issue is focused on TAKING BACK CONTROL, what is one thing where you’d like to take back control, this could either be within your personal life, politically or socially?
My bank account.
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