Fashion

Top image: Stefan Cooke SS19 / photography by Tomas Turpie

Over the past year, the MAN design trio of Art School, Rottingdean Bazaar and Stefan Cooke have spoiled us with a series of provocative collections that have opened up new areas of discussion, celebrated a city of diversity and championed issues of gender, all with an unbridled sense of fun and performance. Anyone who’s attended one of their London shows knows about the invigorating energy that accompanies them, a special brand of palette-cleansing optimism that always leaves smiles on faces.

And while Stefan Cooke will remain on the MAN schedule, the time has sadly come to say our (temporary) goodbyes to both Rottingdean and Art School, both of whom showed their last collection under the MAN banner this season. Now that they’re looking forward to a future beyond Lulu Kennedy’s brilliant Fashion East talent incubator, we spoke to them about their time with MAN. Together with a backstage video of their SS19 shenanigans, exclusive to HERO, we found out their biggest backstage disasters, the progress they’ve made and what they will miss most…

Art School

This was your third season of LFWM, do you feel a lot more assured backstage now?
“Definitely! I think we’re always quite confident with our shows as we go through such a journey each time with all our cast of friends putting it all together that we sort of forget the nervousness and just can’t wait to show ourselves to the world! This time felt different however, we were almost more nervous about showing as we all felt it was a big moment for us, with what we produced and the way we expressed it on the catwalk.”

What’s been your biggest backstage disaster from your time at MAN?
“Erm… Johan Zoo turning up super late for the FW18 show! [laughs] He will kill me as I always go on about this. I called him when he was supposed to be here and he had just woke up with my calling him, meanwhile we were fitting his look onto other people to see if it would work… I sprinted twice to Bond Street station from the Selfridges Show Space to see if he was near… constantly calling his phone. Just as I was about to say to dress the new model I saw him on the other side of the road. I grabbed him and made him run whilst he was screaming, “Fashion is gonna kill me!” – Ah memories!”

How do you celebrate post-show?
“We’ve always done something different, last season we went back to our flat and all laid around brain dead scrolling through images from the show, and Elly, our amazing friend and model, made a big pasta dish which was super yummy.

This time we were clever and booked a room at the Ace Hotel, this was a wise decision as it’s always super strange going back home after all the adrenaline of the show!”

This season you collaborated with Holly Blakey. How did that impact the energy backstage?
“I’m not so sure backstage…  I know Alex Arnold wanted to be very much in the zone and get into character and yet all the boys were running around still making noise! When it came to lining up however there was a real mood, people were ready to enter the runway and slay the performance. Holly gave the show it’s mood entirely, she has such an elegance, and this permeated into the whole show and the models, everyone responded so well to her. Art School loves Holly Blakey!”

What have you got planned for next season?
“Oh that’s a secret! I can say however we are going it alone… we’re ready to show the Art School world in it’s truest form. It’s going to be special. Watch this space!”

 

 

Gallery: Art School SS19 / photography by Tomas Turpie

 

 

Rottingdean Bazaar

How do you celebrate post-show?
“Tidying our flat.”

Did you have any difficulty dressing Julie Verhoeven as a Christmas tree?
“The Christmas tree is easy dressing.”

What will you miss most about showing at MAN?
“The caring and open-mindedness of Lulu and Fashion East.”

Which costume proved the most tricky to dress?
“Ourselves.”

What have you got planned for next season?
“Rottingdean Fashion Week!”

 

 

Gallery: Rottingdean Bazaar / photography by Tomas Turpie

 

 

Stefan Cooke

You share the same backstage space as the other MAN designers. Is there any collaboration pre-show?
“There wasn’t any collaboration back stage with the other designers, just hello’s and a shared sense of anxiety!”

Did those incredible button looks give you any scares backstage?
“The button pieces are fine. We really believed in them and it was a pleasure to finally see them together with hair and make-up on the right models.”

What have you got planned for next season?
“Next season we will dream bigger. More ideas come to us every day! We just can’t wait to spend the end of the summer researching!”

 

 

Gallery: Stefan Cooke SS19 / photography by Tomas Turpie