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Interview: Isolated Heroes

Wednesday 12 December 2012

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Words Spindle

Neon hair, rebellion, pop music, party monsters and Pikachu. These are just a few of our favourite things as The Sound Of Music tells us. Isolated Heroes bring our Christmas wish list with ease, and Spindle couldn’t wait for a mulled wine moment with the designer, Samantha.

Your graduate ‘Voodoo Zumbies’ collection set you apart in spellbound fashion from your piers. Was it a case of kicking out conservative initiation and being loud from the go?

I studied ‘Fashion Design for Industry’ and was therefore pushed into all sorts of commercial briefs throughout my first years of Uni, which really limits your creativity and basically drove me insane. I always worked with textile techniques ? knitting, embroidery etc  ?  and thought a lot about the fabric surface rather than the structure of the garment. Everything was always really bright and colourful from the beginning and never really fitted into any of the briefs. I think the final collection, ‘Voodoo Zumbies’ reflected everything I had wanted to do throughout Uni and was perhaps so loud and theatrical in presentation as it was the first time we could express how we wanted to design.

Boys being girls, girls being boys; you’re all about the unisex, which comes out lush in your clothes.

I don’t really agree that clothing has to be male or female, so I wanted the collection to be genderless and decided the best way to do it was make it all unisex. A lot of the garments were interchangeable and could be worn differently by either sex.

What attracts you to tribal prints? Have you ever been on safari?

Ha, no I have never been on Safari but I would quite like to. I started using tribal prints in the ‘Voodoo Zumbies’ collection as I was looking into Haitian Voodoo and everything was really bright and colourful. I then started looking into “Aso Ebi”: the idea of a family cloth, where whole families wear either the same pattern or print throughout all their clothing. All the fabrics are so loud and heavily detailed I started to develop on some of the prints, working on top of them, either screen printing or using embroidery and embellishing and it has became a signature design aesthetic for the brand.

Describe your imagination if you can, as I get the idea of a deliciously surreal world from your outfits where colour and oddness is the way forward.

Haha all I see is pattern and print! I think my imagination is full of colour, fabrics and patterns. I like to design for characters and work my way back from there. A lot of the silhouettes are completely ridiculous, insanely oversized or feature key design elements such as massive tasseled hoods. It’s about diffusing down from there. I would love to design a whole tour for someone, from all the outfits, to work on the art direction with the stage, set design and props to complete the entire vision. I think this is the best way to describe what’s going on in my head. There’s so much colour, texture and props that it’s hard to bring it down and define into a single garment.

The CELEB ‘glossy mag’ question: who would you like to dress for?

I think I make up my own characters, to design for people who aren’t afraid of what to wear and whether it’s going to be acceptable in a day to day environment. Wear what you want and be how you want to be! I love people like MC Gaff E , Agatha Frank and Ms Fitz in New York. Their outfits are so theatrical and that’s just their day to day clothing. As for an ideal client I’m not sure, I would have loved to have done stage wear for Karen O back when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were going, as she is another example of someone who will wear anything. As for people right now – Mykki Blanco, Grimes, Yo Landi Vi$$er would all be amazing to design for. Right now we are making stuff for 2NE1, Ruby Gloom and La D Da. All the Hong Kong and K pop kids are great to dress as their look is so extreme and they love layering and taking trends to complete extremes.

So have you got a soft spot for Pokémon, Pikachu in particular, as I spotted the rascal as a rucksack in your recent shoot?

We did feature some Pikachu bags in one of our collections.

Is London still the place to be?

I love London, however I don’t live there. Our studio is based in Scotland and I never thought it would be possible working from here in this industry, but it’s actually fairly easy. There is still a thriving textile community and everything is on your doorstep and fairly cheap. I think the internet has made it possible to live anywhere and still be a designer. I think if we move anywhere I would rather move somewhere exotic, or live in Hong Kong / Japan for a bit.
Mystic Meg style question: what’s in store for 2013?

No idea what’s in store for 2013. We are so busy at the moment that it’s hard to see the end of the pile of projects we are currently working on. I just tend to take each day as it comes. However we have just moved into a new studio which is much bigger than our last and opens lots more opportunities. Right now we are in talks with some Japanese stockists, so I think if anything 2013 will mean we will be designing on a greater scale and will hopefully be available in more stores world wide.


Words: Charles Matthews

Photographer: Martin D Barker

Photography Assistant: David Macaffer

Models: Anthony F @ Superior ELECT, Cassie @ Superior ELECT, Chloe Mitchell & Katie Alock.

Make Up Artist: Sara Hill @ Academy of Make Up

Make Up Assistant: Rachael Solley

Hair Stylist: Martine Caroll

Hair Styling Assitant: Paolo Andreuccetti

Stylist: Terri Higgins

All Clothing: Isolated Heroes, Mr Bens, We Love To Boogie.

All Jewellery: ALTAR Jewellery