While many of my favourite menswear designers are trying their hand at womenswear for the first time (Damir Doma, Tim Hamilton etc.), it’s good to see established womenswear designers have caught on, too. Former apprentice of fetish-clubwear-loving enfant terrible Gareth Pugh and loved by Roisin Murphy and Diane Pernet amongst others, Gemma Slack has extended the reach of her dark, sometimes eery and affecting, other times graphic and arresting, to include menswear. AW10 marks her first foray, a small yet strong collection with a distinctly vampiric bent. Here’s to many more.
What led you to make your menswear debut this season?
I was just quite interested in venturing into menswear, but most of the clothes are unisex, really. I think there’s a much broader crossover these days – clothing and dress-sense aren’t as gender-lead as they used to be. Also, a lot of my male friends were complaining that they couldn’t wear my collections.
There seems to be an androgynous, semi-military vibe going through the collection. What inspired your menswear looks?
The whole collection, womenswear included, was inspired by themes within Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The idea of being suspended between two states of being and realities. The masculine vs. the feminine, the dichotomy of the Victorian world and reality – the blurring of lines.
Did you find the process of designing menswear was simply a matter of translating your usual design process to the male form or did it prove more complex than that?
Whatever project I’m working on, I generally start with the ideas and concepts, be it menswear womenswear or sculpture. Then, I allow the ideas to evolve. It’s only in the later stages that the final ‘product’ is realised. So, in one sense I was translating my usual process, however, when I began the development there was a lot of consideration of the male form and certain new aspects were a welcome challenge.
You interned most notably for Gareth Pugh, would you say the time you spent there was formative in terms of your own aesthetic?
Working with Gareth had, of course, an influence on my own work – he’s a great designer. In terms of aesthetic, I learnt a lot whilst I was working there which does translate into my own work, but the reason I went to work for him was because of a similar vision. I think my work has evolved in a different direction since then, and that we’re both now striving for different aesthetics.