In this radically altered fashion landscape, where skills of adaption are as crucial as any other, Inês Amorim and Reid Baker, the design duo behind Ernest W. Baker, are embracing these new parameters with open minds and fleet of foot. This approach has enabled them to roll with the punches where many have hit the canvas. Departing from the safety of their signature 70s Detroit ad-man wardrobe, their new collection combines 90s reference points with ideas drawn from the designer’s own formative years.
Providing the cinematic accompaniment for FW21 is a short film that takes its blurry-edged surrealism from the work of Lynch, Wenders and Wong Kar-wai as much as our own discombobulating, dream-like reality. Below, Amorim and Baker talk us through the making of their most recent collection, the emotional angst that guided them and how the quintessential Ernest W. Baker man has expanded his horizons this season.
On blending references from the 70s and 90s this season…
“There is no doubt that the current world situation has definitely had an influence on our work and tapping into these current feelings brings up a sentiment reminiscent of the 90s, aesthetically speaking.
The classic Ernest character always has references from the 70s so it was interesting for us to blend these two eras together and to find similarities to how they can come together. There are several items in the collection that really show this combination but probably none more so then the tartan flare trousers from the collection this season.”
On exploring dreams and portraying them through the collection’s accompanying film…
“The theme of this season’s collection is a study in contrasts. Reflective of the times we are living in, we saw this theme of contrasts to be relevant to many of the emotions we are currently experiencing. Through our research, we saw a way to convey these contrasts through the imagery of lucid dreams, passing from waking to dreaming without the loss of awareness.
Our intent was to create a non-linear narrative, much like in a lucid dream starting at a middle point without the understanding of why or how you got there. This uncertainty, as in a lucid dream, contrasting with moments of clarity, both in our collection and film, felt very relevant and timely to the current world situation.
Cinema has always been a source of inspiration for much of our work, and this was a new opportunity for us to work on a project in a format similar to producing a film. Our intent was to create beautiful frames, with a dreamy aesthetic using strong colours to visually portray the idea of dreaming. We collaborated on this project with photographer Vladimir Kaminetsky, who also directed the video and introduced us to the work of Wong Kar-Wai, whose work we drew on to create the aesthetic we wanted to portray throughout the film.”
On the core cultural influences behind FW21…
“We began this collection’s foundation with Ernest’s classic aesthetic rooted in the 70s, and contrasting this reality with fantasy and surreal components, consistent with time periods of the 70s, through to the 90s.
The decision to have these contrasting visuals was inspired by the stress, and varied emotions we are all experiencing by the evolving pandemic. We wanted to explore these emotions that are evoked in a world that sometimes do not feel real, and it is the blending of a dream with reality that we wanted to show in the collection, in saying that I would say there are several references to the current culture more so then in much of our previous work.”
On key FW21 looks and materials…
“Our Ernest character this season continues to be very well put together, as with all of our previous collections yet we diverged a bit by adding a slightly casual, ‘loungy’ element as a contrast for the look this season. We juxtaposed ‘high’ and ‘low’ in several looks; a clean double-breasted coat with pyjama trousers or a t-shirt with tailoring, which also feels reminiscent of our 90’s influence.
This season we also have organic cotton t-shirts in the collection along with organic flared denim, adding two new categories to our vision that we have not previously explored.”
On this season’s Ernest W. Baker man…
“The EWB man is becoming more aware of living in a world of contrasts, and with increased uncertainty of what is real and what isn’t.
Stay the course, the EWB man is focused yet flexible, just rolling with the punches as they come.”