How did the initial collaboration between BAG&BONES and Rankin come about?
Gigi Foyle: I’ve been a big fan of Rankin’s work for as long as I can remember. Especially since the 90s in his early Dazed & Confused days. My first ever piece of artwork was the cover of a 1994 Dazed & Confused magazine. It was a photograph of Richard Ashcroft taken by Rankin. I cut it out, framed it, and hung it on the wall in my dormitory cubicle at school. I don’t know how Rankin did it, but that photograph made me feel like Richard Ashcroft was in the cubicle with me! And I was 100% okay with that. It was an all-girls boarding school run by nuns and I’m not sure the nuns were actually okay with it.
Why was Rankin chosen for this project?
Gigi Foyle: In terms of art, photography has always been my favourite medium. A carefully composed and captured image has inherent artistic value and the ability to really move the person looking at it. I love the way a still image can convey messages and I think Rankin’s photography feels unapologetically direct and honest. It’s something we at BAG&BONES have always tried to be through our neon. It means that sometimes we offend people with our words, often being a bit brash, but more often than not, the feedback we get is that it has resonated with people or made them laugh – I guess that’s what it’s all about. Since our inception in 2016, BAG&BONES has been hugely inspired by London’s many cultural reference points. For more than 30 years, Rankin has immortalised these icons and symbols through his thought-provoking work. The opportunity to work alongside one of London’s biggest creative talents was one we couldn’t wait to dive into.
The element of colour is, of course, important, but why neon?
Gigi Foyle: I would like to take the credit for this, but this is all on Rankin and his brilliant team. When we reached out to Rankin, he came back with the idea of creating eye-catching works of art that never lose their light, proposing that he shoot the models on clean sets to bring the portraits to life. To ensure the focus on light, Rankin captured the models with LED designs. We then overlaid LED neon on the final images. By utilising the lights on set rather than just in post-production, we had the ability to create bold compositions that continue to shine whether your print is switched on or off. It’s original, unique, thought-provoking, and disruptive – it’s just absolutely brilliant and we could not be happier with the end result if we do say so ourselves!
Why was handwriting important to this project? What does this convey?
Gigi Foyle: I think when it comes to designing neon, working with handwriting elevates the whole artistic process and it almost animates the words. Rankin’s free-spirited scribbled letters shout for attention in a way that typography never could, while the elegant flourishes of his hand-drawn graphics and squiggles sashay across the piece. Every piece brims with personality and there is an interplay between Rankin’s handwritten words and the images of the models with the pink neon lights, which brings everything together in a bold and disruptive kind of way. There is a bit of an F-you about them and we are 100% here for that!
What does the project aim to celebrate and why?
Gigi Foyle: It’s a celebration of the human body and light to capture our appetite for expressing ourselves. It’s like we’re celebrating ourselves in our rawest form and we’re quite literally shining a light on that. As a brand, we share Rankin’s obsession with taking the rule book and tearing it down the middle. Underpinned by an ability to disrupt the monotonous world of modern interiors, each incredible piece of homeware illuminates the imagination.
How does female empowerment play a role in the shoot, considering the element of nudity?
Gigi Foyle: I think female nudity has long been part of a repertoire of strategies that feminist movements have used to challenge restrictions imposed on women. Female public nudity is usually treated as a moral offence or a cause for concern and discussion. We all know that the prohibitions on women’s nipples have nothing to do with women’s nipples, but everything to do with control. I personally believe that the female body in its many shapes and sizes is one of the most beautiful forms of art in the world. There was a quote I saw once that said, ‘Nudity empowers some. Modesty empowers some. Different things empower different women and it isn’t your place to tell her which one it is.’ I think that the key message is that female empowerment is defined as promoting a woman’s self-worth and their right to influence social change. It’s not so much about the nudity; it’s about the choice, and female nudity should not be taboo. One of our best-selling neons of all time was a Coco Chanel quote that says, “A girl should be two things; who and what she wants.” And if she wants to be nude, let her be nude!
Is this type of artistic collab something you hope to see more of in the future in BAG&BONES?
Gigi Foyle: It was hands down my favourite project in my career to date. 10/10 would do it again.