Thu September 13th 2012 at 5.27 PM

GETTING READY FOR LFW WITH FRED BUTLER

Posted by Bethan Holt

London Fashion Week begins bright and early at 9am tomorrow. To get us in the London mood (as if we weren’t already) we have a little preview chat with colourful accessory designer extraordinaire Fred Butler who introduced a fun new concept to showing fashion with last season’s hook up with Charli XCX. Red Bull sponsored the collaboration which saw a track recorded to be sang at Fred’s presentation. Two Inch Punch (a.k.a Ben Ash) is Fred’s partner in crime for SS13, the theme being bumble bees. An added dimension is Fred’s work with the bumble bee conservation trust- totally inspired- and the creation of a fashion film with Elisha Smith Leverock. Find out more in my Q&A below…

Two Inch Punch and Fred Butler: SS13 collaborators
Fred’s SS13 sushi pastels
How has your experience in the Red Bull Catwalk Studio changed since last season between working with Charli XCX and Two Inch Punch?

With Charli we devised a song that she would perform live at my AW12 presentation to add a fresh new ambience to the format to energise the space and audience. With Ben we have been plotting a track specifically for the soundtrack to my SS13 fashion film and create a magic sonic world as a backdrop to the narrative.

Fred and Ben in the studio
What made you want to work with The Bumblebee Conservation Trust this season?
In a subconcious way I think the bee fascination has come from Red Bull literally giving me wings and watching the bees buzzing about this Spring/Summer. I went down to the V&A specimen lab with scientists who were ridiculously helpful and sat me down with boxes of bees and left me to my own devices to draw them. I discovered that bumble bees pollinate by extracting the pollen from vibrating their wings and beating the particles out. It’s only bumble bees that can pollinate certain plants so they are absolutley crucial and need as much help as they can to spread the word of their demise. For example they are responsible for tomatoes – imagine a world without toms!What came first, “A Bee in My Bonnet” or your bee design concept?
I’m always waiting for a bolt of inspiration to woosh through my subconcious. I have been wanting to revisit my gold-work embroidery techniques that I tested a few years ago for Kim Howells “House Of” Project. That piece was hexagonal patchwork like honey comb but it wasn’t until I met a guy one day who said to me “youve got a bee in your bonnet”. Voila! That was it.
Did you know Two Inch Punch a.k.a Ben and/or his music before you worked together?
I knew Ben’s music which is why I approached him for this collaboration because his sound is the aural definition of the visual I had in my mind’s eye. He layers samples of wet crackles, licks and drips ontop of a fat woomping bass which I imagined to be the perfect sound to conjure up the feeling of a busy colony of bees working away inside their hidden hive. One of the main connections I have with (film maker and photographer) Elisha Smith Leverock is her intrinsic musical sensitivity and how integral it is to the magic of her editing our fashion films. It’s not just an edgy sound in the background, it’s carefully considered down to each second.
Two Inch Punch is described by The Guardian as “a mad maximalist”. Many might describe you in a similar way. Do you get that vibe from him and did it help or hinder the project?
It’s funny that I guess we make “out there” work but in nature both quite tame, calm characters. Perhaps we do all of our shouting via our creative output because personally we are balanced and at ease. He got exactly what Elisha and I wanted to achieve and consequently it’s been a breeze! He even sampled one of the beats from the rattle of a spray can which is one of my most used tools.
I’m sure you get asked this all the time but… Lady Gaga has worn your creations. Is that the ultimate accolade?
I think the “Telephone Hat” is my no.1 fact. It launched my name into an arena that it would never had exposure to otherwise so I’m very grateful for that break! Its a very easy way to explain what I do in one sentence!
You are a natural collaborator- there are so many creatives from different disciplines involved in this and all your projects. Why do you collaborate?
I think life should be a shared experience as much as possible. Projects are a much richer experience when you join forces to have fun and push each others boundries to reach the ultimate goal thats unattainable on a solo crusade. I also feel very lucky to have this presence and want to open it up to other people to have exposure too.
Putting fashion on film is becoming ever more popular. What do you think makes a great fashion film?
Something heartfelt and distinctive to the designer or director. The most successful are ones that pull a punch in being pure and powerful in original feeling. I’ve been very excited by Quentin Jones work since she first started and has since gone on to commissions from Chanel, Victoria Beckham, Kenzo and recently Tibi. She has a recognisable and distinctive style yet it can morph and fit between brands which is a seamless success story!

Quentin Jones’ Chanel film
I’m told that your new collection is “a departure” and has a “fresh street and sport inspired edge”. Why was it time for a new direction? Could this be the start of your fans being able to buy into your aesthetic?
I’m a fan of wearing a backpack so I thought I might start trying to design the ultimate dream of one that I would like myself. To plant that seed into the industry I’ve started off with a couple of bag styles for this collection. As with my show pieces they are very intricate and out of control in labour hours so the diffusion line will be a paired down version. Its funny because in the hour of queuing up to get into the V&A at half term I had immediate research and market material looking at all of the backpacks lined up infront of me!!
Bumble Bee is a classic “dressing up outfit” for kids. Was this something you thought about or was your approach more cerebral?
It is an obvious choice of concept but I never really care about judgement of what Im doing because my main focus is that im enjoying it! To create the most pure work I can has to come from pleasure of the process of physically making it and that is just the path my instinct took me this season.
How do you feel about the upcoming LFW show. Are you excited? Nervous? All of the above?This is the 3rd time I have got to live out my childhood dream so that one day is a guaranteed surreal whirlwind of emotion. You can’t take anything for granted so I’m ecstatic for each time I’ve been able to do it. Therefore I can’t thank Red Bull Catwalk Studios enough for supporting me to make it all possible. I’m also really looking forward to having my own party which is a first! I might end up flailing around the dancefloor like a beetle on its back not able to get up but at least everyone that has helped me can have a chance to celebrate!
Is there anything you have “a bee in your bonnet” about which you’d like to get, er, out of your bonnet?Please can more people in fashion smile at each other. It’s free and its not difficult and brings about a greater sense of well being and invigorating peace. I’d love to see everyone at Somerset House greeting each other how strangers do in remote countryside communities. Simple and yet so rewarding. It’s also just good manners, isn’t it?I’m pretty sure Fred’s bumble bee collection will be putting a big smile on our faces on Monday morning when the presentation will take place from 9-11 at Somerset House.

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