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oki-ni: Christopher Shannon 2012 Spring/Summer Collection Preview & Interview

Christopher Shannon’s eclectic contemporary sportswear has always been compelling and remarkable if, at times, a little scattergun. Yet, when the music stopped and the lights came up at the end of his 2012 spring/summer presentation we were left with the clear impression that this was the work of a confident designer who had found his feet.
Although much attention will be given to the unusual headwear made from brightly-colored plastic combs, to focus on them would be to overlook the refined essence of the collection as the shape and color scheme told a more refined story. All-in-all the collection was slick – and not just in terms of the model’s hairstyles – with grey as the dominant shade, punctuated by accents of bright orange, signature panels of nylon, and the introduction of Christopher’s own take on a casual wear classic: the madras check.

oki-ni went backstage after the show to find out more from Christopher.

Hi Christopher, this collection seemed like a real departure from the previous one. It was much cleaner in particular. Was this a conscious decision?
I think it’s never conscious to make a break but you just have to do it because otherwise it gets really boring. I don’t like when designers jump ship every season; it’s more like keeping it looking like us but getting more things in.

The madras check was a great addition, but for a summer collection it was very restrained in terms of colour. The main colour seemed to be grey.
I just love grey. We did loads of colours at first and it was too playschool-y. And also, I kind of wanted to show off the madras – frame it rather than overdo it. Because it has a Ralph Lauren thing and I love those elements, I wanted to present it how we would work with it. But I’m glad we made the madras work. It’s harder than I thought it would be because it’s a really tricky fabric with so many colours in it.

We were also a big fan of the various panelled and deconstructed sweatshirts, which felt familiar for you but also new.
There are actually other versions of those that I love more that didn’t make it into the show. Actually, a few of my favourite pieces didn’t go in.

Your show notes mentioned that the music for the show, Leslie Winer’s album ‘WITCH’, was a big influence on you. How did you discover it?
I found it through John Maybury, the film director. I was looking at all the old videos he’d done – the old Sinead O’Connor ones and Massive Attack ones – and she just kept popping up. Then when I looked into her it turned out she was this model in the 80s. Then in about 1990 she recorded this album, pre-Massive Attack and Portishead, and it’s amazing. It’s one of the best things I’ve heard and everyone I’ve played it to, thinks it’s new. And I think just that quality of having something that ages that well over twenty years, and still seems fresh because it’s so personal, is something that we need to do.

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