Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Agi & Sam: Making their debut at London Fashion Week as part of Fashion East, the design duo take Fresh Prince as the inspiration for their collection


Agi & Sam are a print based menswear label working on their second collection together. Having showed at LFW as part of Fashion East, it was a huge step up from the sand filled installation they exhibited at Vauxhall Fashion Scout last September. Both Agape Mdumulla and Sam Cotton seem intrinsically linked, not only in their ideas but in their manner and humour, being totally laddish about each other’s strengths and slagging each other off at the name of famous designers one has worked for. Without sounding cheesy, they say they bring out different sides to each other that once combined make for extremely interesting print based designs. They spoke to Dazed Digital about their speedy rise in the fashion world and how their lives turned upside down as they look to the Fresh Prince to guide them.


Dazed Digital: How did the idea of starting a label first come about?
Sam: After completing our degrees in 2008, mine in Illustration and Agi’s in Fashion Design, we headed for London seperately to intern and we met at Alexander McQueen. We both stayed for a collection or two there doing some great work and then I moved to work at other design houses such as Karl Lagerfeld, J.W Anderson, Carolyn Massey and Blaak Homme. We would constantly be applying for jobs and it was almost like we were in limbo with it. We couldn’t go into junior levels because we had too much experience but then we weren’t experienced enough to go into senior or middleweight designer positions.
Agi: Yeah especially after being in a place like McQueen where it is so creative and every day is different- you don’t just sit down in front of a computer or a desk and just draw or whatever, you literally do everything and anything. To then go and do something quite regimented and restricted wouldn’t be good so we just decided to do our own thing.
Sam: ...Our ideas tend to become linked without even knowing. Like last collection when I asked Agi what he wanted to do and I suggested we do something Native American inspired he whipped out notes he had previously scribbled down all about Native American culture and to this day, he still believes he told me about his idea.

DD: So do you always come up with a theme for your collections?

Sam: It sort of depends really. We try to engulf ourselves in the season and it usually happens for us just when the other season is coming together, similar to everyone else’s trends really. This season has been about the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. That literally came from us sitting watching the Fresh Prince on TV every day while doing the collection and just thinking ‘this is quite a good starting point’. So then from there we just started looking at every angle of it and immersing ourselves in it. From nineties music to the art scene with Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Harring and Bridget Reilly, and just going to as many exhibitions as we can. We just literally try and live it. This is why we do a collection; we enjoy the subject matter on it so whatever we’re basing a collection on we want to get something out of it.
Agi: It’s similar to how we justify what we design. The collection should be wearable. When I’m designing I’m constantly thinking ‘would I wear that’ and if I wouldn’t, chances are I wouldn’t make it either.

DD: Who do you see wearing your clothes?

Agi: Probably a guy between the ages of 20 and 50. Someone who is creative and who appreciates longevity and craftsmanship rather than someone who follows trends.

DD: What will stand out for Agi & Sam against all the other new labels out there?

Sam: Obviously print is the main thing for us and that’s one thing that’s never going to change. We want to take print on in a different way. We love traditional print and would love to do more of that kind of stuff too but we’ve been looking at digital prints specifically for this season- looking at a way of reinventing it. The problem with digital print is that it can look so flat and computer graphically printed. Last season we did a lot of print that emulated wools to give off a wool texture with Fair Isle for example. Makes it a bit unique I think.
Agi: Definitely, it gives it another dimension and level. It’s taking something that is really flat and making it more than just a print. Colour is another thing that we like to do differently. Colour comes more naturally to me than Sam for instance as I can sort of see colours matching even if they seem like they wouldn’t go together. I like to see what happens with it and use it as a progression of it doesn’t work and you can just edit it out.
Sam: It’s quite refreshing how we jump into it as well. People become so logistical in the way they look at colour with colour boards and palettes but Agi looks at colour and says ‘It will work, trust me’. This is something I have learned from him as my illustrations pre-Agi were quite dark. Without sounding ridiculous I guess you can say that Agi brought out a colourful side to me!

DD: You seem to base a lot of choices on instinct…

Agi: Yeah we feel the fashion industry can be very serious and regimented whereas we like to follow our gut feeling on things. I’ve never been very good at sitting down with a pen & paper and logistically coming up with designs. I always have loads of ideas in my head. I prefer to start quite large, use whatever colours I want and think about prints but just have everything laid- then you can start thinking about editing down.
Sam: We’ve worked with and for people where fashion has been everything and it is taken far too seriously and becomes a person. We do appreciate that because to an extent fashion is our life as well but at a certain point it becomes an obsession and isn’t necessarily good for a label. You know if you love something so much people say you shouldn’t actually give too much of your time to it because it starts to become a chore. We don’t want that to happen with fashion for us, we’d rather do our designs without the seriousness matter of life and death as although we love it and love everything we do - it is just clothes at the end of the day.






Read Article Here on Dazed Digital: http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/9389/1/rise-agi--sam

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tweed Crazy

Sorry for no-nay-never posting over the past few weeks, my final major project has taken over my life. I'm doing a tweed inspired magazine, have a photo shoot tomorrow with some amazing tweed suits from Huntsman on Saville Row so I will post them pictures when I get the chance. I will be all yours come September. I promise. Here are some tweed images that I have been looking at to spark some ideas. They might encourage you to do something yourself!

Monday, June 14, 2010

World Cup Fever

World Cup fever is among us and already the likes of Wimbledon have been cast aside for the biggest sporting event in the world. With Ireland's failed campaign thanks to a blatant handball by Theirry Henri, I have decided to support Spain because a friend of mine is from Spain, and they also seem to have the most aesthetically pleasing team with Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso, Gerard Piqué and Pepe Reina. That and their football skills of course.

Everyone has been hit with the fever, even in the fashion industry. Louis Vuitton have designed a custom-made, 18-ct-gold travel case for the gold World Cup trophy in their signature LV print and colouring. Unveiled by Naomi Campbell, the trophy will be carried around South Africa in this beautifully crafted case until it is presented to the winning team. (Spain, of course)

"We are very proud to have been chosen by FIFA to create the case in which the world's ultimate sporting prize will in future travel the globe," a spokesperson for Louis Vuitton said. "This exceptional commission truly honours Louis Vuitton's 150- year tradition of craftsmanship and savoir-faire. We are also delighted to be part of the great festival of football that the 2010 FIFA World Cup promises to be, and to renew our ties with the host country South Africa, with which we have had for many years a very special relationship."

Something pretty to look at...

Friday, June 11, 2010

My Penny Lane Moment

The Strokes have been at the forefront of the music scene for the last decade, storming into the limelight with their debut album 'Is this it?' in 2001 and unleashing a guitar sound that was unheard of before. Five New York rich kids were behind this innovative sound that after a week of release, had everyone around the globe trading their skate shoes in for converse.

The band had not played together since October 2006 and have a few festival dates lined up, with Julian Casablancas, the lead singer, set to perform in between those dates with his own solo album, Phrazes for the Young. Their first port of call was set to be the Isle of White festival this weekend followed by a set on Sunday in Rockness, Scotland, but a photo posted on their Twitter caused speculation of a London warm up gig. Under the name Venison, tickets went on sale for £10 for a gig on Wednesday 9th June in Dingwalls, Camden,with no more than a 500 capacity which is reminiscent of their earlier choice of venue.

And so the adventure began. Record label connections, journalist bosses and Irish charm weren't enough to get me into the gig. We knew we were in the right place when we saw Ryan Jarman from the Cribs enjoying a pint in the courtyard as we stood at the barrier, along with a couple of hundred other hopefuls. The tickets had sold out in less than two minutes with the rest of the tickets going to guest list and industry people only. After a word with a barman and an attempt of trying to give out to two kids selling their tickets for £300, we got a tip off that the band would be entering the venue from the high street. We sauntered around the corner to suss out the area and saw a few other fans had the same idea. A rent-a-car pulled up, and all of a sudden, five beautiful men started walking towards us. Albert Hammond Junior with his usual slacks and suit jacket, Fab and Nicoli briskly brushing past with gear, Nick donning an orange tiger jacket over an oversized tank, and Julian in a tattered studded leather jacket, white high tops, sunglasses and a green hair extension flapping in the wind. I started walking toward him before my body could comprehend what was happening and a handshake and a quick 'How's it going man' set me up for life.

Adrenaline pumping, we knew we had to get in somehow. From the pub upstairs, there was another back staircase leading to the intimate venue. The security guard turned his back for one second and I knew it was now or never. Putting my high jump skills to the test, the red velvet rope was the only thing in my way and as soon as I had cleared that I knew I had to run. The drones of New York City Cops was the soundtrack to my break-in, and just top be sure, I bolted for the front in order to blend in. Those security guards, they aint too smart.

The crowd were going insane. Old favourites such as 'The Modern Age', 'Hard to Explain', 'What Ever Happened?', and 'Reptilia' sent us into a frenzy. All Julian could muster was a reiteration that this was their first gig in four years which added to the hysteria. The band gelled as if they had never stopped touring and their on stage chemistry was at its peak. Roadies came onto the stage to protect the pedals and amps from the dripping ceiling, and the band sweat with the rest of us. The crowd shouted up requests, with 'Juicebox' being the over riding song to which Julian replied 'Oh I don't think you're ready for that yet'. A note perfect Red Light calmed the crowd, and they ended the main set with a raging rendition of Last Nite.

The packed venue consisting of fans and celebrities alike such as Chris Martin, Zane Lowe and Edith Bowmen, screamed VENISON in unison as they returned to the soaked stage and leaped straight into 'Under Control' and '12.51'. Albert lit up a cigarette as he jammed with his white guitar. An apt choice for an encore, Take it or Leave It rounded up the experience excellently.

To meet your heroes is one thing, but to see them live in a tiny venue playing all their hits was another. Words can only describe the elation, but the memories are locked away for me to enjoy every time a Strokes song comes on my ipod.

You Only Live Once.


New York City Cops
The Modern Age
Hard to Explain
What Ever Happened?
You Only Live Once
Vision Of Division
I Cant Win
Is This It
Red Light
Last Nite


Under Control
Heart in a Cage
Take It or Leave It

Watch a video of Last Nite here on Pitchfork.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

She's a Swann Fatale

Tucked away beside a hearth in one of Brick Lane’s many cafés sits a Swann. And no, it is not the bird kind.

Chloé Lenique is a singer-songwriter from Paris, France, interning at Dazed & Confused magazine as part of her advertising degree. The name Swann, she explains, is a character from a Proust book, A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. “Swann is a man who loves art and who considers it is something that can convey much more than it seems to”. Apart from the little obstacle of the sex, Chloé does just that with her folk music, conveying emotions along with her tales of loneliness and love.

Paris has been her home since she was born and living in London for the past few months has had quite an impact on her. “London is much livelier than Paris. It has been a great experience. I’ve learnt to be more open-minded about everything and more confident as well. People here are more outgoing and less ‘classic’ than in Paris.” This classic look she speaks of sums her own style up perfectly. With chestnut brown hair and a blunt fringe, a black lace shift dress and little ankle boots, she is the epitome of Parisian Chic. She does however, “like the idea of making Parisian style less classical with a pair of Topshop shoes for instance”. She’s a fan of French designers and notes Claudie Pierlot’s retro looks as a point of style inspiration.

The twenty one year old and her younger brother “grew up to the sound of music”, as she aptly puts it. Her mother’s guitar playing inspired her to pick up the instrument herself and she recalls music being played during dinner and whilst in the car. “I can remember listening to my Mum’s records of Leonard Cohen and Neil Young when I was eleven and to my Dad’s records of the Rolling Stones and Lou Reed when we were in the car. It has always been very natural in our family and this taught me to be very open-minded about music”. This influence so young sparked a rebellious side to Chloé as she recalls her first record she bought was something to the effect of ‘Barbie Girl’ by Aqua. She laughs whilst trying to justify the purchase, but comes to the conclusion that there is no acceptable excuse for such bad taste in pop music. Of course, we’ve all had one of those embarrassing music store impulse buys that we danced around our bedroom to so we’ll let her away with that one.

Playing live holds a big place in Chloé’s heart, and the emotive way she performs proves this. “Playing live for me is both a challenge and a painful moment. Not in a bad way, I mean, I need to feel my songs from the inside every time and be very concentrated, that’s why it’s painful. It’s a moment when I have to face fear and pain”. This pain and fear she recounts is not witnessed while she is on stage as it seems she is at home up there, with her guitar as a shield perhaps. On some of her London performances, Stephen Munson has accompanied her on stage with a harmonica, electric guitar and backing vocals, and this elevates her performances in bigger venues. But on songs such as ‘Lovely Girl’ and ‘Will I see you’, her folk influenced voice bellows out and captivates the room in an instant. Her favourite gig so far has been at The Old Blue Last, Shoreditch, but she also made a trip home albeit volcanic ash to play a gig at L’International which stands out for her also.

Inspiration for her heart felt songs depends on her mood. “Sometimes I feel like writing the lyrics first or sometimes the melody comes to be first. But the most important thing is that I always work on both at the same time so they’re coherent and one sticks to the other perfectly”. Her slow tempo songs are infused with ideas of loneliness and sadness, topics which often remain unanswered. “I write the words that come to my mind naturally. Most of the time, I won’t really know why I wrote it and it’s only a few days or months down the line when I understand”. Her demeanour is reminiscent of a young Francoise Hardy or Nico, the latter whom which she is a fan of along with the Velvet Underground. Some of her favourite haunts in London are flea markets and record shops where she recently picked up a copy of The Tallest Man on Earth’s latest record The Wild Hunt. Her eclectic music taste, she feels, is noted in her songs and that it’s a mix of all the music she loves.

Chloé’s time in London is drawing to a close and soon it will be back to Paris to record another demo. She also hopes to tackle an album, one that will be flowered with more country and folk filled songs no doubt. Next time a swan glides gracefully down a river or lake, be sure and listen to the joyous delights of Swann. You will not be disappointed.

Upcoming Gigs: The Constitution (London) 21st May
Le Bus Palladium (Paris) 18th September

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bill Hicks Lives On

Bill Hicks was a true visionary in the world of comedy who highlighted the corrupt politicians and commented on the US' major hiccups in both an intellectual and humorous manner. His abrupt jokes and harsh beliefs paved way for a new generation of thought provoking comedy, but his status has yet to be overthrown.

"Fifteen years after his death, Bill Hicks is now more popular than ever, and is widely regarded as one of the best comedians of the modern era. However, in America, where he challenged institutions and accepted ways of thinking, he suffered censorship and was never truly recognised. In the country which enshrines freedom of speech in its constitution, his story is truly about what it means to be an American. American: The Bill Hicks Story blends interviews and historical footage with a stunning new animation technique – manipulating 1,000s of photographs to uniquely immerse the audiences in Hicks’ world."


Here is a list of the main British and Irish showings:
London Curzon Soho 14.05.10
London Greenwich Picture House 14.05.10
London Odeon Covent Garden 14.05.10
London Ritzy Brixton 14.05.10
London Screen on the Green 14.05.10
London Clapham Picturehouse 15.06.10
London Stratford Picturehouse 15.06.10
London Brentford Watermans 18.06.10
Glasgow Glasgow Film Theatre 14.05.10
Edinburgh Cameo 14.05.10
Edinburgh Filmhouse 29.05.10
Dublin Irish Film Institue 14.05.10
Cardiff Chapter 14.05.10
Bristol Cube 14.05.10
Manchester Printworks/Odeon 14.05.10

Extra Extra!

It's one thing to have a blog and publish your work online, but to see it in print in magazines is such a wonderful experience. I was lucky enough to be published in both Dazed & Confused's May Issue with Tilda Swinton on the cover, and Velour's first edition this month. The two copies sat side by side in the local newsagents and both had a similar colour schemes which made them stand out on the fashion magazine packed shelf. To quote Penny Lane in Almost Famous, "It's all happening..."