“Tories put the ’n’ in cuts,” read Philip Ellis’ unapologetically political BA Fashion pieces, taking a razor-sharp stab at Britain’s politicians while catching the attention of the fashion world with his subcultural mash-up aesthetic.
Now, the Central Saint Martins graduate and HEROINE 5 star, returns with his SS18 collection: Better Late Than Never. Here, Ellis filters those subcultural codes via a more youthful and subtle lens – “As if I am burying my head in the sand regarding Brexit and looking back to my youth and childhood for escapism” – taking inspiration from Magnum photographer Bruce Davidson and silhouettes, fabrics and patterns from the designer’s childhood.
Wanting to contextualize his work, Ellis will present his SS18 collection via a special editorial in the debut issue of Enlarge Your Memories – a new publication designed to give maximum freedom to a single editorial project and provide a platform for young creatives. Captured by long-time contributor Yann Faucher and worn by Suzi Leenaars, the accompanying editorial is a follow up to the images featured in Heroine 5, where Ellis styled his collection on location at a friend’s farm in his home village of Chinley.
Here, the designer talks us through his new collection and why he’s chosen to present it in paper form.
Alex James Taylor: Can you take us through the reference points for your SS18 collection?
Philip Ellis: SS18 came as a reaction to my graduate collection. I am addressing similar themes and exploring aspects of Britishness again, but with lightheartedness and a naivety that my previous work lacked. My ideas for the collection began months ago when I was living in Paris and frustrated that I couldn’t realise any of my ideas. The inspirations came from the work of photographers addressing Britain such as Bruce Davidson and I look at silhouettes, fabrics and patterns I associate with my childhood.
Alex: Your FW17 graduate collection addressed Brexit and the political climate, does your new collection address similar socio-political issues?
Philip: My graduate work was so centered round this idea of dystopian Britain and heavily addressed Brexit, so it felt natural to oppose that with more youthful clothes and a less obvious agenda. As if I am burying my head in the sand regarding Brexit and looking back to my youth and childhood for escapism. However, there is a slight political edge, the title of Killer Vanilla is open to interpretation and the accompanying graphic of the clown was in part influenced by killer clown sightings in the US and UK post-Trump’s election. I wanted the political references to be subtler, as I don’t want to be pigeonholed into the narrative of a young politicised designer. I try not to be a one trick pony.
Alex: You’re presenting the collection via a collaboration with Enlarge Your Memories. Can you talk us through how that came about and why you wanted to present it this way?
Philip: Enlarge your Memories is the title of my friend’s new publications series and I’m the first, hence EYM001. The publication is the brainchild of Jamie Shaw and was born from frustrations with the editorial system in fashion. He kept seeing his friends’ work be diluted or rejected from print publications and wanted to provide a platform for young creatives to have complete editorial control of their projects. His studio is on Ridley Road and I was heading to the fabric shop there when I bumped into him and told him I was starting new work, he told me about his idea for a new publication and here we are.
Alex: How did you want the editorial itself to showcase the collection?
Philip: I would be unhappy just to showcase the collection as a conventional lookbook. I’m massively aware the collection is too small and undeserving of a fashion show but I wanted to contextualize the work, so it made sense to feature it as an editorial. My design work doesn’t just concern clothes – I’m always thinking about the world surrounding the garments and I had as much fun shooting the collection as I did making it!
For me presenting the clothes as an editorial was equally as important as the collection itself. It also allowed to me to collaborate with friends again.