Rain! For once I’m sort of glad to see it drizzling down in the January darkness. No I’m not mentally unhinged (much), I’m just excited about the harsh wintry weather fading and the milder arriving. To celebrate/dance a little rain dance, here’s a SS11-themed Q+A with a menswear designer to watch that I came across a few months back.
Fiongal Greenlaw, a Middlesex grad, released his first collection for Spring Summer 2010 (The Pop Society) which succeeded in establishing his unique brand of ‘dandy’ i.e. not the twee and old-news-at-this-stage spiffing look (you know, that look with the colourful socks and brogues! Oh what an innovative rascal!), but ‘dandy’ in the true sense of the word: alluring, sophisticated, suave yet playful and mischievous.
With Fringe Frater for Spring Summer 2011, Greenlaw develops this initial attraction to the ‘dandy’, by rendering him in an all-American guise, mixing Ivy League prep and British cheek.
MM: Why fashion design, and specifically, menswear design?
FG: Because fashion is one of the few creative industries that marries artistic expression with craft and almost mathematical discipline (via its pattern cutting and execution). Menswear is harder to subvert, therefore it’s a great challenge to be interesting and yet adhere to social and commercial acceptability. I also love the historical element in menswear which is not seen so much in womenswear.
MM: What inspired your Spring Summer ’11 collection?
FG: I wanted to concentrate on silhouette for this collection so I took inspiration from the oversized elements of the late ’80s and early ’90s suits. I thought it’d be interesting to mix overly long shapes with noticeably boxy shapes. I was also looking at Bruce Weber photographs of the same period as a stimulus.
MM: What sets you apart from other designers?
FG: I think my playfulness, especially with proportion, is quite unique. Plus I’m not afraid of colour; my Autumn Winter ’11 collection which I’ve just finished is similarly bold in its approach to colour). It’s something that is often missing in menswear, or it goes too much in the other direction with brash, loud palettes. I definitely want to develop the ‘dandyish’ side to my style; bring this out more and make it my signature, which was definitely prevalent in my first collection.
MM: What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
FG: My very first bit of press was quite exciting. I thought, “Gosh people are getting interested in this stuff, it’s becoming real and not just a hobby”. It was also Wonderland Magazine that picked it up first which was a great compliment. My presentation at Jaguar Shoes in Shoreditch was also great: having all those people come to show their support, and generally an excuse to have a bit of a party after all the hard work.