Fred Butler, an interview. by Silvia Bombardini



Dear Shaded Viewers
and Diane,

If the Kanizsa
triangle could be outlined in rainbows and glittering powder, it wouldn't be past
Fred Butler to do just so. Her designs have the subtle patterns of Rubik cubes
in glossy bubblegum shades, and they could fit just as perfectly in a nightclub
or a spaceship, all hexagons and paillettes. Looking forward to her spring show
in less than a couple of weeks, Fred kindly found a spare moment to talk about magic
and music, and give us a promising sneak peek of what to expect.


S.B.: Before setting up
your own line, you worked as a set designer for some time, is that right? and next
to Shona Heath, no less. What made you then choose to focus you
attention on the human body instead, a tinier and closer, tactile perspective, both
intimate and showy in your unique way?

F.B.: After graduating from a fashion degree at Brighton I moved to
London and interned with Shona to experience art direction. I became her
assistant and learnt all about prop making which was brilliant but I missed the
actual garment side of fashion. I realised I wanted to specialise / carve a
path in turning props into wearable pieces by collaborating with stylists on
shoots. Creativity is in my fingers so I have to touch materials for the magic
to happen. This meant I wanted to keep small scale and side step large set
design. But I still put emphasis on consideration of the overall look, which I
implement in my shows with an all encompassing package and attention to detail.

S.B.: Your
beautiful film "Nape of the Neck", directed by Elisha Smith-Leverock
for, shows your creations gleaming in a particularly gentle, mellow
and breathy atmosphere. Is the nape a favourite of yours, or which parts of the
body are you most likely to linger upon in your work?

F.B.: It was very funny that SHOWstudio assigned me the nape of the
neck for their fashion body project. That is my one fetish in a man so it was
the perfect pairing. I see a heart shape in the swirl of the skin below the
 hairline so we used that idea to design the makeup with Yin Lee. I wanted
to approach the exercise as an experiment in incorporating materials in
cosmetics as an accessory.


S.B.: Whether
you're designing props for a magazine's fashion story or working on your own
collections and films, there often seems to be some sort of narrative unfolding
in between your pieces, not just a static theme or inspiration but a storyline
in motion, outlined by your wonderful titles yet indulgent to plot twists. What
can you tell us about your winter lineup, "Tank Top Ranking Tongue Tied
and Twisted"? Where did the idea come from, and where did it go?