MCM’s 45th anniversary

Five artists on reimagining MCM luggage and what British identity means to them
Fashion | 25 October 2021
Above:

Ted Le Swer

Founded in 70s Munich when it was the capital of disco, the luxury luggage of MCM quickly became the accessory of choice for everyone from Diana Ross on tour in the 80s to hip-hop artists of the 90s – thanks to this rich history, the house’s Visetos luggage and monogrammed logo are now instantly recognisable. However, in celebration of their 45th anniversary, MCM have asked five young British artists to create a reimagined vision of their Cognac Visetos-Stark backpack, a design that has been with the brand from the very beginning. As a house forged on forward-thinking progression, this project is no different, focusing on reinvention and up-cycling, each artist was asked to approach the project with the question of what contemporary British identity means to them.

Coming from a wide range of creative mediums, the five artists invited by MCM have all taken a very different approach to the project. Ted Le Swer’s I Won’t Bite takes the form of a narrative video as the rucksack sits in the British wilderness, while multidisciplinary artist Denzel Currie sights Greek mythology as his inspiration. Imogen Frost takes the backpack out of the traditional context through the use of found objects, while Joe Sweeney “entombs” his in the 5p high street plastic bag and Jess Cochrane focuses on displaying luxury in non-conventional formats.

All artworks will be displayed at a pop-up exhibition at the MCM flagship London store before being auctioned for charity, the proceeds will be donated to benefit fashion and arts education scholarships at UAL – providing some much-needed help to the future generation of creative talent. Below, each artist shares insight into their design process and discusses how the idea of British identity resonates with them.

Denzel Currie

“My goal was to explore the message of the brand and how it compliments contemporary British culture. The signature monogram print, ‘Cognac Visetos’, features a Laurel Reef which is a symbol of the Olympic Games. The country coming together on a national stage seemed like the perfect theme for this project.

My work is based heavily in mythology and as I looked into the Laurel Reef I found a story of it being used by the Apollo, the Greek god of music, to symbolise victory. The Laurel tree was made from the body of his first love. So I designed a Lyre (Apollo’s signature instrument) made from a woman transformed into a tree. And used this illustration as the base for the rug and both the shape and adornments of the bag.”

Denzel Currie

Lyre Satchel, created by Denzel Currie

Imogen Frost

“My piece of work explores contemporary British Identity as an amalgamation of different building blocks. As an identity is formed of many different elements, from its deep rooted history, through to the modern gaze that the viewer will have on this piece. Each material represents a piece of contemporary British Identity that I feel is important. I’ve used materials such as wood, metal, & glass to explore these themes.”

Imogen Frost

Building Blocks, created by Imogen Frost

Ted Le Swer

I Won’t Bite, consists of an acrylic UV print, taken from the 60-second 3D animation which is displayed and attached to the bottom of the work. I Won’t Bite, follows a 3D scanned MCM rucksack placed amongst a nostalgically British forest scene, consisting of pines, ferns and mushrooms.

The narrative of the video work situates a rucksack at dusk as it mutates into a speaker at night and come the rise of the sun it morphs back into a rucksack. This short video, pulls upon seductive notions of rave culture, allowing for the leakage of fashion, music and art to culminate in the British wilderness.”

Ted Le Swer

I Won’t Bite, created by Ted Le Swer

Jess Cochrane

“The portrait addresses topics of display vs disguise. the fascination for Cochrane lies within how people contemporary British culture in this aspect, expresses personal character through clothes just as much as it’s used to deceive others of deep personal self-criticisms.

The work acts as a binary that shows us both the positives and negatives of the psychological aspect of fashion. the impressionistic style of the paint gestures warps curves and blurs a perfected image underneath. asking its viewer to question how or what we view as desirable and relatable.”

Jess Cochrane

Many Choose Maximalism, created by Jess Cochrane

Joe Sweeney

“I’ve subverted the luxury good provided by MCM by entombing it in a stalwart of the British high street, the 5p plastic bag. There is often a morbidity woven into my work that focuses on the concept of time and when thinking about the theme of British culture I often feel we look back, with nostalgia, to past glories. I’ve recreated a plastic bag in a classical aesthetic in this instance to sardonically comment on nostalgia, and how this urban detritus may one day, in its rarity, may be regarded as a precious relic itself.’

Joe Sweeney

Holy Ghost, created by Joe Sweeney

The MCM pop-up exhibition will run at the Conduit Street flagship store until 31st October

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