paul-phung---stutterheim---karlmond-tang

Sometimes people use the phrase “dystopian future” and think it simply means some faraway high-tech future. The actual definition of a dystopia is one where society is characterised by oppression, not necessarily artificial intelligence and hover cars. ‘The Matrix’ for example was set in a dystopian future. ‘Her’ however, was just futuristic. Sure, in the cinematic world the future is painted as bleak more often than not, and if we’re going by the future set by ‘The Terminator’, ‘Planet of the Apes’ or ‘V for Vendetta’, they have all taught us one thing and that is we’re going to be fucked sooner or later.

It is quite easy to open a can of worms when discussing the term ‘dystopia’. Elements of what we see in tv/film such as ‘Futurama’ can be related to modern society, where everyone has a “job chip” that designates you a career, although unemployment now is not punishable by death/a rocket into the sun. Many aspects of George Orwell’s ‘1984’ are frightening, and a dumbed down language to me is no surprise as I started typing “lol” when I was a pre-teen. We’re already slaves to our phones, a habit highlighted and preyed upon by ‘Black Mirror’. It’s grim! Terribly grim. But I’m not looking to discuss how bleak everything is or could be, the majority of media does that job well enough. What I am interested in is how clothing will change.

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I suppose with fashion, clothing is often looked back on in order to move forward. Consumers and designers will sometimes take what they grew up with, and apply it to now, creating a somewhat contemporary collection that reflects the times. I had read somewhere that fashion can be a brilliant time capsule, reflecting the demands of then’s society and of course all of its cultural happenings. The average designer will create a collection bi-annually, where something is released for spring/summer, and then a new collection is released for autumn/winter. Each collection is often made 6 months in advance. You can imagine what people might like in 6 months, and there’s all sorts of trend forecasters to help you along the way. What if someone said to you we want you to create a collection for spring/summer 2077? Where the hell would you begin?

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A costume designer’s role is to not only create something that is characteristic of the times and of the individual, but also something that is believable. When you look at what Kym Barrett did for ‘The Matrix’, the dirty worn clothes really nailed this rags-to-riches-to-rags ideology, removing luxuries and replacing them with human necessity. Casey Storm with ‘Her’, created something SO believable, by introducing elements of what we deem as vintage clothing, but modernising them within a colourful landscape that has balanced itself with technology. These, and many other films and designers, can bring you a future so visually believable, that you might even wake up and walk into it tomorrow.

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I met Paul backstage at Katie Roberts-Wood’s show several seasons ago and this is our first time shooting together. He is a fantastic photographer and artist, and one who sees an image before needing to take it. There’s mood and feeling in his work, and when he directs there is a cold precision to it.

We had to create something using Stutterheim’s raincoats. I’ve been familiar with the brand for years, having met the founder in his early days and his very humble rail of several coats. Now it’s quite a big brand, but as it’s grown it’s lost a bit of its unique melancholy edge, which in my eyes was always Stutterheim’s unique selling point.

So for the styling and general concept, I wanted to look to the future. I wanted to create this neo-punk desert roamer, who was a cross between Tank Girl and The Major from ‘Ghost in The Shell’ (the manga version). A nomad hoarder who rides a dirty bike. I suppose all the punk aspects went out of the pan and somehow these beige androids/aliens came into play, and look as though they seem to be questioning their existence. I quite like that.

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Credits

Photography: Paul Phung

Beauty: Min Sandhu

Models: Lim Lee and Olivier Geraghty

Styling: Karlmond, assisted by Devon Greene

Wearing Stutterheim, Filippa K, Nanamica, Issey Miyake, Haider Ackermann, YMC and Baartmans and Siegels.