JOYCE ICONICS UNVEILS T-SHIRT PROJECT IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CELEBRATED YOUNG DESIGNERS
Following on from last season’s Denim and ‘Le Smoking’ Tuxedo projects, JOYCE ICONICS leads a project to celebrate the t-shirt. Often overlooked, the understated piece forms the backbone to any wardrobe. Partnering with a new generation of brands, JOYCE seeks out young designers with a new take on an old favourite.
A total of five brands have been invited to exercise their artistic freedom, each designing and producing their own capsule series of tees.
¨ Charles Jeffrey
¨ Faith Connexion
¨ Wales Bonner
¨ JETPACK hom(m)e
The result is a series of t-shirts that often have an intimate story behind their design: comforting and informal, but always of personal significance to each designer. An authentic reflection of today’s youth culture.
JOYCE |CHARLES JEFFREY
“IT’S A LAUGH. IT’S ALWAYS A PARTY.
AND THAT’S THE WAY I LIKE TO HAVE IT.”
Interview: Anne McManus
Photography: Filep Motwary
Videography: Brano Gilan
The question of art in fashion and fashion as art is a much debated topic in a trend based industry. Those who manage to combine the two are considered masters. So when a relative newcomer manages to effortlessly pull the two together, success is undoubtedly instantaneous. This has been the case for Glaswegian prodigy Charles Jeffrey.
Winner of the British Emerging Talent Prize at the 2017 Fashion Awards it’s easy to see how the Central St Martins graduate is considered the poster-boy of London’s radical contemporary scene. He’s hard to miss. Striding across the British Fashion Council Paris showroom, the Scotsman towers above the rest. Clad in platformed brothel creepers and a kilt, his youthful face is accented with a flurry of painted beauty marks - it's clear that Charles Jeffrey wears art just as well as he designs it. Vibrant in both his fashion and his mannerisms, the conversation is animated.
Presenting a capsule collection of white tee-shirt designs for JOYCE Iconics, the designer talks to us of his drawings, fashion, music and LOVERBOY.
Can you tell us a little about your background? Was a career in fashion always inevitable or did you just fall in to the industry?
As a kid I constantly drew, I was always drawing. I’m from Scotland originally, but I was an army baby so I always used to move a lot with my Dad who was in the military. When my Mum and Dad divorced I moved back up to Scotland. I used to spend hours and hours with my pens and paper drawing little characters and little worlds. Originally, I thought I would get in to video game design, but then I realized how much mathematics involved!
I went in to my Art & Design high school work with an open mind but then I definitely moved more in towards fashion. I realized I could be creative and apply all of my drawing to it. I think growing up gay, fashion is a really good way to find yourself and express who you are. I had a really fantastic Art teacher called Mrs. Corbett who pushed me to be really creative [especially when it was tough] with my parents, pushing me to be in a place where I could apply for somewhere like St Martins.
When I first saw Gareth Pugh’s fashion show, that for me was a realization that St Martins was where I needed to be. This was where everyone had come from. That’s how I got to realising I wanted to do fashion and that I wanted to go to London.
You’ve mentioned drawing, your Art teacher at school, going to St Martins… clearly art is of huge significance to you in terms of the way your life has panned out. How have you brought that in to your work?
When I met Gary Card, who is my set designer for the shows, or became familiar with his work, I felt like we were from the same planet. We have quite a similar aesthetic, a similar approach and take on expressing ourselves through art. When we decided to work together on my shows we were talking not just about the set being a thing to decorate – a space – it was really about the whole expression. It was a big part of the language of the show.
Another big part of that is the club night that I did.
So tell us more about LOVERBOY…
When I was doing my masters, I got invited to DJ at a club night. I was quite stressed with school at the time so it was a good place for me to express myself outside a sketch book, without tutors badgering me to try and be a certain way or try and fit within this mould. So I got together with a few friends and made all the set, objects that we could wear, and we filled the place with balloons. My friend Jack did a kissing booth and I decided to paint myself blue… It was just a “whatever” moment. It was just a really fantastic night. We were asked to do it again.
In comparison to being forced to work in a certain way, I think having that freedom helped me with my work. It was less having to pattern cut the perfect shirt.[…] It was more about an attitude really. It gave me a great opportunity to work in a way that I hadn’t done before.
Now it’s a bit different. But I still like to work in that free “’f**k it’ manner”. We do a shoot, with my friend Thurstan Redding, a photographer, creating what can be seen as looks or objects or sculptures on the body. It’s kind of my way of drawing. Obviously I still scribble and draw but that’s intertwined into the work too. It’s a weird way of working. I don’t sit and look at a picture and sketch. It’s more hands on. It’s a laugh. It’s always a party. And that’s the way I like to have it.
To what extent do your personal views have an impact on your work?
For my most recent collection, which is called ‘Tantrum’, I really wanted to express a part of myself which I have always wanted to. So, this particular collection was very emotionally charged. It was actually about falling out with a friend. Also all the changes going on in my life and things moving so fast, there are little growing pains there. The set with Gary it was all blown up and inflated. Kind of puffing your chest up. It helped me make some decisions. I don’t know how to describe it, but if it were a metaphor it would be like smoke coming from me.
You latest creative epiphany or breakthrough moment?
It’s actually quite funny. It’s this kilt. I bought my first kilt, even though I’m Scottish only two months ago. We were doing a bit of vintage shopping for the show and I wore it and I just thought “Why the F have I not worn a kilt before?” This is it. This is my thing now. I’m going to wear a kilt all the time. It feels so good and should help me tap in to more Scottish heritage. This is a really beautiful thing for a man to wear. It’s sexy, it’s flirty and it’s also smart when you want it to be as well. This needs to be in our collections throughout. This whole Scottish regalia needs to be in it. There’s so much history. For me, wearing it was “I’m Scottish, I’m here and this is what I want to say.”
I always wear pants though. Whatever… ‘true Scotsman’? I’m cold.
Could you explain a little about your Tee-shirt designs for the JOYCE Iconics project?
The Tee-shirt collection that we’ve done for JOYCE is based on the Tee-shirts that we did in Spring/Summer. It’s a small capsule that is personal to JOYCE. Sophie [Jewes], she’s my best friend, but also my PR, used to always send me these hilarious newspaper headlines from small towns. One day I was a bit stressed and she sent me the whole blog. “Cheeky Seagull Nabs Crisp” I was killing myself laughing and thought let’s just put these on Tee-shirts! It had lit up the whole room, everyone in the studio was laughing. This should be on a Tee-shirt, let’s make this our statement and call it the LOVERBOY News.
The other Tee-shirt was just a doodle. Me sitting in the studio drawing the LOVERBOY logo in a different way. I think I was on the phone to my Mum whilst I was drawing it and thought “It’s actually quite fab!” When you go back to try and do it again it’s not the same. It’s just a doodle we blew up and put on to a Tee-shirt. It’s nice to have that energy – effortless.
Do you have any thoughts on the significance of the Tee-shirt as an iconic piece?
For me, a white Tee-shirt is a blank canvas. You can wear it to help another garment showcase itself. It’s iconic because you can do whatever you like with it.
I love my Martine Rose tee-shirt. She’s one of my favourite designers, and just having her name tiny in the corner there… that makes me feel good about myself. There’s something quite interesting about that. You can put a white tee-shirt on that has a small little indication of who you are via another brand and it helps you showcase yourself.