Rebellion + unity

The subcultural references behind av vattev FW24
By Ella Joyce | Fashion | 10 January 2024

Since its founding in 2020, Antonio Vattev’s label av vattev has become synonymous with transposing and transforming the sartorial tropes of cultural icons into an innovative wardrobe for today. This season’s collection – titled superculture – riffed further, drawing inspiration directly from sonic icons – we’re talking Liam Gallagher, Brian Jones, Pete Doherty, Mick Jagger. Vattev turned to the mods, rockers, punks and casuals of Britain’s subcultural history to execute his vision of rebellion and unity, specifically, Syd Shelton’s iconic images of the 1970s Rock Against Racism movement found themselves pinned to the Bulgarian designer’s mood board, reflecting his intentions to craft a collection “rooted in meaningful dialogue.”

Executing his vision in an array of chocolate brown pinstripe suits – directly referencing that famous portrait of Mick Jagger and Francoise Hardy taken by Jean-Marie Périer in 1965 – Vattev continues to riff on his louche, Jukebox-closure tailoring while outerwear evolves in oversized Gallagher parkas, shirt-anorak hybrids and a raw cut poncho decorated with rhymic embroideries. Muddy hues were sprayed onto jeans as if revellers had worn them while rolling across a swampy festival field and shirt-anorak hybrid forms took Britpop sci-fi. In the conversation below, Vattev unpicks the sights, sounds and cultural references behind his FW24 collection.

Ella Joyce: Your FW24 collection ‘superculture’ is inspired by the Rock Against Racism movement of the 1970s, where and when did the idea for this season begin? 
Antonio Vattev: I first discovered the Rock Against Racism movement through Syd Shelton’s photography book, titled Rock Against Racism ― 1976–1981. The book captures acts of style activism, showcasing the creation of an activist identity through sharp choices in clothing, accessories, hairstyles, make-up, and body language. While I’ve had this idea for some time, it took a while to seamlessly integrate it into the brand’s visual language and overall identity.

EJ: Is there an overarching message or emotion you’re aiming to articulate this season? 
AV: The primary objective of this collection is to illustrate the power of unity through the convergence of diverse ideas and perspectives. In an era where people often struggle to listen and extremes dominate, I aimed to create a collection rooted in meaningful dialogue.

EJ: Music is integral to your brand, what role does it play in your creative process? 
AV: Music serves as a form of escapism for me, providing both emotion and freedom. It plays an integral role in shaping my creative process and overall existence.

EJ: References from British subcultural movements can be felt in nods to mods, skinheads, rockers, punks and casuals across the collection, what kind of images were on your mood board? 
AV: I maintain a folder containing images gathered over the years, stuff I like from music, art, book covers, and magazines. Each season, I curate a selection of visuals to weave a narrative. For the current season, I deliberately embraced a sense of freedom, opting not to be so selective, and drew inspiration from various movements and subcultures. The process was liberating, free from any constraints and I really enjoyed it.

EJ: Were there any specific cultural figures or artists who inspired you or certain pieces in the collection? 
AV: Rather than singling out favourite pieces, I approach the collection holistically, aiming to create a cohesive narrative where each piece contributes to the overall storytelling aspect. I closely examined the styles of a few figures, including Mick Jagger and Liam Gallagher, who embody the essence of the eras and movements.

EJ: Your thistle logo features on a lot of the tailoring this season, can you tell us how you arrived at that design?  
AV: The thistle holds significance as it symbolises my early years in London. I vividly recall visiting Columbia Road Flower Market and being captivated by this particular flower. The blend of fragility, beauty, and protection aligns seamlessly with the concept behind av vattev, making it a natural choice for our brand logo.

EJ: Outerwear has continued to develop for FW24, can you tell us a little about evolving these silhouettes? 
AV: Outerwear has always been one of the strongest categories for the brand and each season we seek new ways of integrating our signature Jukebox closure. I typically begin by developing the tailoring pieces, and the rest of the outerwear evolves organically from our mood board. The British parka, raincoats, and bomber jackets play integral roles in blending our codes with the inspiration.

EJ: If you had to sum up the collection in a song or album, what would it be? 
AV: Interestingly, I often find myself obsessed with a particular song during the creative process. For this season, the song on constant replay was Break on Through (To the Other Side) by The Doors.

EJ: How has the av vattev man developed this season and how do you see him continuing to do so in the future?
AV: The av vattev man has grown more confident and mature this season, all while keeping a sense of curiosity and playfulness. I am so excited to see where this path leads him in the future.



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