Dear Shaded Viewers,
Most of the fashion schools these days don’t really encourage independent designers, more likely they advise them to get a job working for a big brand and climbing slowly up the corporate ladder. That idea did not really appeal to the two designers behind the Paris based brand “TOKEN”. They met seven years ago at school and then 3 years ago they launched their brand. Elena was born in Brazil and Nanjika was born in the French Caribbean and raised in Africa. Rather exotic beginnings, the two met at ESMOD Paris. They both dreamed of creating their own brand that would merge their two universes. They want success but not at all costs, especially not at the risk of losing their joyful attitude towards dressing up. They both harbor a fantasy about the 80’s Nanjika is drawn more to the street/graphic side and Elena to the more glamorous and embroidered looks. Their icons are artists like David Bowie, Freddy Mercury, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Grace Jones and the list goes on.
“When we started the brand, we were already inspired by 80’s artists: David Bowie and Michael Jackson and the musical stage in general. So it came naturally for us to work with current artists of today who shared the same vibe or artistic approach.
Our first collection mood boards in 2014 had inspiration from the band SKIP & DIE that we discovered through their first single Riot in the Jungle in 2012. Coincidentally, SKIP & DIE was having a concert in Paris at the time. We decided to design a piece for Cata Pirata the singer of the band, which she loved, and invited us to see their concert to meet them in person. After meeting the band they proposed that we dress them for their up and coming tours and we’ve been collaborating since then.
This collaboration caught the attention of other artists who approached us, such as Cakes da Killa, Ginger and the ghosts, Conchita Wurst, French bands like Nico & the red shoes, Minou, Exotic Toy etc.” said Nanjika.
Curious and ready to create their own textiles they mix modernity with 80’s glitter rock. More than a total look they are into special pieces that you will want to wear all the time and that piece will become your “token”. Within each collection they like to do a press piece, this time there is a jacket inspired by skeletons, the skull heads are jewels and within the body of the jacket are two speakers that resemble breastplates but are amplifiers. While you are walking down the street you are sharing your own music, some people will love it, all will notice you.
The collection is small and precise and consists of 20 pieces. When they construct the collection they start with the jacket and then build around that. “When you are 12 or 15 you have a piece in your wardrobe that is your signature piece, the piece that you are known for and recognized as ‘your’ look. That becomes your TOKEN.” Said Elena.
TOKEN SS 17 is called FIRESTARTER and was inspired by HARLEQUIN, the Commedia dell’arte character, famous for being a charming trickster, spiritual, precious, taking himself lightly and laughing at his troubles and foolishness, essentially a punk. They pay tribute to the HARLEQUIN through their mixed bag of references from the cinematographic universe of their hero, Tim Burton, the punk band PURE HELL, and the evil duo HARLEQUIN & COLUMBINE of Kenneth Anger’s film Rabbit Moon. Their prints were created from punk characters with HARLEQUIN, roses and Commedia dell’arte imagery. TOKEN has taken the collection on the road, the duo have shown in Tokyo, London and have course, their home base in Paris. Their goal is to conquer the stage and those that inhabit it.