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This morning, James Long presented his collection for next spring/summer in London Collections: Men’s most capacious venues, The Old Sorting Office. The show notes talked about James finding inspiration in people who seem “natural” in their clothing, free spirits for whom blending in is rarely an option. Moments after the boys trooped backstage in their bohemian layers, I grabbed a few minutes with James to discuss his inspirations further.
What were your inspirations for this collection?
JL: It was very much about Brighton and the pavilion, originally owned by the Prince Regent, which was squatted for ten years, so it was all about that decadence. The original interior designers had an idea of India, an idea of China, it wasn’t real, they hadn’t been to these places so it was kind of an imaginary idea of what those places were. All of the references were chopped up, confused they weren’t accurate or correct, there was kind illusion mixed in and I loved that idea. So, the knits were based on the wallpaper with the illusion and then that led to the languid feel, with robes and a little bit of tailoring but in a ruined, distressed, dressed down way.
When was it squatted?
JL: 80’s-90’s, it’s the only palace that isn’t owned by the Queen, because Queen Victoria didn’t want anything to do with it because the Prince Regent was so decadent and spent so much money there. I love that idea of all the craziness within the rooms. Then there was another idea of people feeling like they’re blending in but they’re really not, that’s something that I want to celebrate in fashion, not feeling like you have to blend in at all. I think you can wear these pieces very simply with a lack of self-consciousness and those are the people who really inspire me, who really have true style. Out of the capitals now, the capital is so saturated with photography on style, to go to somewhere like Brighton, it’s just completely free, and I got excited again by how people were putting clothes together and so I wanted to relay that within my collection.
Were you inspired at all by the squatters themselves?
JL: It wasn’t the squatters, it was more that that was the era when I was going out, sort of walking along the beach after going to a club, I remember putting on a robe on top of an outfit, its that feeling of thinking your blending in but you’re not at all but it has some form of true style for me, its not conscious in a way. It wasn’t the squatters, it was just the idea of this building that was run down, that was fully decadent, that had bankrupted the royals, all of the patchworks of the ruins came from that idea but giving it my kind of feeling.
Are there any pieces or techniques that stand out for you?
JL: I love the woven fabric, I felt that we put all of the drawings that James Davison’s did for me that were very free as well and we put all of those colours into the weave, and we put the gold in and I felt that I picked everything out into the palette and wove it into the fabric, I wanted it to flow through the whole collection. And the paisley, Chinese, baroque I wanted people to not know what that was really, not to patronise but I didn’t want it to be immediately identifiable because that was about the imaginary idea of how China was or how India was, so it was me allowing myself to be free.
You always have such a colourful front row; to what extent do your friends influence what you do?
JL: They’re kind of my witches! They’re my people, they’re the ones who are trying to blend in but doing really badly!