Artist in residence

Matthew Miller reveals his FW15 castings as illustrations and tells us he’s sick of the gender debate
By Tempe Nakiska | Art | 22 April 2015
Illustration Kristina Gedris
Photography Takanori Okuwaki

Matthew Miller FW15 backstage

Matthew Miller says it how it is. The London designer’s clothes are for a post-disaffected generation, themes of war, conflict, rebellion and pride enmeshed in a tightly bound trifecta of politics, youth culture and style.

Casting has always been integral to the designer’s process, turning against stereotypical beauty to fill his shows with faces that more honestly reflect the people who wear his designs. Worn by boys and girls alike, from catwalk to campaign to street. For his FW15 show Miller took it one step further, enlisting the help of young illustrator Kristina Gedris to document the two day casting process.

Here, we reveal the results – an artist in residence series that throws the spotlight back to the people. The ones who give life to the clothes.

Tempe Nakiska: What was the thinking behind bringing your FW15 casting process to life in this way?
Matthew Miller: Casting is such a huge and integral part of what we do as designers. If it’s done badly or without thought and respect for the design, cut and fabrication of the clothes then it can destroy six months’ work. Equally every model has a very unique character and I wanted to get Kristina’s view point on them.

Kristina Gedris ‘Adam’ at Matthew Miller’s FW15 casting. Courtesy the artist and Matthew Miller

TN: How did you meet Kristina?
MM: She applied to do an internship with me – she wanted industry experience and I thought it would be great to have an illustrator in residence.

TN: You casting process itself has always been quite interesting, you’ve often used girls in your shows, and in general your models tend to look a bit odd or different – in a good way. They beg a second look. Why are your drawn to these faces?
MM: I wouldn’t say they were odd, I’d say they were different. I think that’s whats so incredibly beautiful about them. People make clothes. Clothes don’t make people. 

TN: You also continue to use both girls and boys in your shows, a subject people continue to cling to. Are you tired of the gender debate?
MM: Yeah I’m tired of the gender debate for sure – it’s nothing new. And the whole ‘oh, he’s using girls!’ So fucking what? Where did these rules come from? We have to show women in this time and men in this period. They’re certainly not my rules – I’ll do as I please. If you dont like it, fuck off. If you want to come and have a look, then you’re more than welcome. I make incredibly beautiful clothes, I make them on my terms and mine alone.

Kristina Gedris ‘Utekal’ at Matthew Miller’s FW15 casting. Courtesy the artist and Matthew Miller

Kristina Gedris ‘Luka’ at Matthew Miller’s FW15 casting. Courtesy the artist and Matthew Miller

TN: Kristina’s illustrations give a feeling of realness, one that carries through much of your own work. Say, the paste-on graphics in this collection itself. Is it about making your work connect to people on a different level than they might normally with clothes? 
MM: I love different points of view that people bring to projects – if it’s just mine it would be pretty fucking boring. It’s nice to have an illustrator’s perspective. Ideally in my studio I’d have an artist in residence, a graphic designer in residence, an illustrator in residence and a product designer in residence. Great things come as an open dialogue about design and its philosophical roots.

TN: Would you do this kind of thing again, or take it to the next level?
MM: For sure, and I have something in mind for the future.

TN: Can you tell us about FW15 itself? The connection to everyday objects, the normality of furniture turned into garments is an interesting dialogue…
MM: I was thinking a lot about our aspirations, do we own them or they own us?

TN: And tags on the clothes, like ‘Resistant’… there’s a greater feeling of rebellion here this season, where from, and how did you approach translating that feeling to the pieces?
MM: It comes from the fire resistant graphics found on furniture. I was really thinking about if we could resist the social temptations to conform and for our existence to be summed up in a series of objects.

Matthew Miller FW15

Matthew Miller FW15

TN: What’s up next for you? How’s the vibe as we near LCM?
MM: I’m working on a few projects at the moment. A re-interpretation and re-issue of the ‘Born to fail’ pieces from a few seasons ago. People constantly e-mail me about them so I wanted to challenge myself through updating it, working with a graphic artist. That’s what’s up next and then on to LCM.

Matthew Miller FW15 is now available online. Check out our coverage of Matthew Miller’s FW15 show here

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