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Gay Times October 09 - Issue 373

Andrew Bannister

Hot fashion designer from Studio805, check him out.

So we were looking at [stalking] your facebook profile and one of your updates was ‘Desire Drives Design’ is that a quote?

Nah it’s just something I thought of, I design clothes I can’t find in shops so it’s things that I desire or want, drives what I design.

That makes sense. So a lot of your stuff – nice bag by the way – is, well I want to say monochrome but that’s not quite the right word…

No, the reason I did red and white, that was my debut collection, was I really wanted it to stand out and have a lot of impact and when I was doing my graduate collection, a lot of them were following colour trends, predicting what people were going to wear next year and it made some of the collections look the same as eachother. So I intentionally made my not fit in with any trends or anything and just choose two of the best colours, red and white to do it. So it really stood out on the catwalk in the graduate collection.

Is that not a colour trend in itself?

Yeah, but the way colour trends work is two years ahead, these are colours schemes that are fitting in, but it didn’t fit in with any of those. I can understand it’s a trend in itself but it stood out from everyone else that year when I did the show.

I have to be honest, I’m not really au fait with how the fashion world works. Who dictates what colours are in?

It’s really weird, I still don’t understand it but you get fabric manufacturers produce fabrics two years ahead, what people are going to use and all these agencies predict colour trends, they do research into lifestyles and what’s going on around the world and they work a year and a half ahead, I still don’t understand it. Then they have these big fairs in Paris, New York, like fabric fairs and colour fairs and then people work from that and design their collections to be a year ahead and fit in with that. But I don’t understand that so I don’t do anything like that, it’s not the way I work.

Yeah it does seem like an odd way to work

It’s just a business. People who are designing fashion obviously want to sell their collections and fit in with what the market is doing. I can understand why they do it, so when collections come out you can predict trends and sell that trend. I don’t like trends.

I read some of your other interviews and I get the feeling you have a love/hate relationship with fashion

Yeah, I mean I hate [I don’t –[hesitates] yeah I do, I hate] high street fashion. The clothes I produce are really well made one of pieces. When I buy clothes I want them to last, so I don’t like that fast fashion, throw away fashion.

Do you think fashion should be for everyone or that it thrives of that kind of elitism?

Yeah I think it should be for everybody but obviously some people do it better than others… [laughs] Not being a snob or anything, but then some people aren’t interested in fashion. Each to their own really. It’s a big business.

What do you think of this myth that gay men are stylish?

[laughs] yeah, that is a myth. Some people are the most unstylish people but think they are. You can’t buy style, you learn how to be stylish. You could be really poor ad be the most stylish person and I think a lot of gay men have spare money to spend on clothes, but that doesn’t mean you’re a stylish person if you’re head to toe in labels, it’s not really style to me.

So you studied in Leeds?

Yeah, Leeds college of arts and design, but in my final two years I was coming to London a lot and used to go to Boombox. A lot of the things I was doing in my final year were driven by that. The first three or four pieces in my collection I’d worn to Boombox.

Is that important, to be able to wear it yourself?

Yeah I don’t really get influences from anywhere else, I push myself in what I can wear because I’m quite a shy person sometimes but these clothes say who I am, what I do. Sometimes I push myself to wear stuff, be brave with what I wear and Boombox was a great outlet for that. Because it was every week you had to come up with something new to wear and really push your boundaries

So what do your clothes say about you?

That I’m a fun person, interesting, don’t know – bit mad? Not quite with it? I like to be different so clothes are a really good way of being an individual and it’s quite good being able to make your own clothes, you can just whip something up in a couple of days and no one else has got it.

What do you think has taken over from Boobmbox?

I’ve kind of dropped out of the scene a bit, im busy at the moment there’s still loads of clubs going on in London, like Caligula which I haven’t been to yet but heard quite a lot about. The east end club scene will always re-invent itself, as one clubs stops another one takes the baton and runs with it. I’ve not been out that much recently, been a bit of a recluse.

You seem to go to the Joiners a lot

Well it’s just down the road! I love the joiners, I love it and I hate it, its really dirty but it’s fun

It’s weird how when I lived in Leeds, I did more dressing up and going out than I do here

I did, me and my friend I can’t believe some of the stuff we used to wear. I used to get my friend to dress up in the most amazing outfits. She went to Speed Queen dressed as a bunch of grapes, she made a dress out of bubble wrap. Things we used to do.

Your crazy youth…

I couldn’t do it now, some of the stuff we used to do, I hold my head in shame

Why is that? Are you getting old?

Ha, yeah. I don’t have the courage I used to have

How old are you?

34, but yeah it’s funny.

What was your worst outfit then?

Oh god, I wore some fairy wings, really cheap polyester t-shirt, I used to have my hair bleached and quite long as well, flares, flip flops and a green ray gun. In one outfit. I used to live in Bournemouth and went to the straightest pub, everyone turned round when we walked in. We used to do it on purpose, wear hideous outfits and see what everyone’s reaction would be.

So what ideas are you working on for your next collection?

I’ve kind of done it on gender. So, male and female but opposing, the duality of read and white. But it’s gone a bit kinky. PVC, Leather, some really nice velvets and woodprint fabrics. Some really nice pieces, just finished a jumpsuit. Hoping to do 12 outfits, a bigger collection, should be really good.

You have these mouth pieces on your models, what’s that about?

The reason I did it, for the shows at college we actually use the same models, so I wanted to put my own stamp on the models I had in my show and the easiest way to do it was to put something on their face that they could take out or remove, so I made mouthpieces out of the fabric they were wearing, it worked really well.

To just shut them?

Yeah some of them did talk quite a bit. I’m doing something similar, as I’m styling the models to look like sex dolls. So if you can imagine what they look like… [laughs] something along the lines of that.

Words: Bob Henderson
Photo: Cynthia Tseng

All clothing studio_805, bag Bernhard Willhelm

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