Last fall I was sitting in the auditorium of the Whitechapel Gallery, in London, UK, listening to Giles Deacon discuss his artistic influences in a conversation with gallery director, Iwona Blazwick, on the art of fashion.
Fast forward one year and I’m sat next to Giles on a couch on the second floor of high-end Yorkville boutique, George C., in downtown Toronto. The acclaimed British designer is in town for trunk season, showcasing his Spring/Summer 2012 designs the day before to a carefully selected audience of the city’s elite. “It was a very impressive crew. I really like to come here and see all the ladies,” he reveals excitedly.
In collaboration with the English National Ballet, Giles created a tutu for prima ballerina Elena Glurdjidze to wear in the company’s version of Black Swan, which appeared on stage last March. When his Fall 2011 collection hit the runway, we saw a hint of that swan brooding in sleek skirts and exaggerated collars, reminiscent of the ebony black, glossy feathers of the infamous dark bird.
“We did lots of research for the English National Ballet’s Black Swan, there was just so much material within it, and I hate just doing loads of stuff and then dropping it. I always think, ‘Well, there’s loads here, let’s really look into it’.”
Delve deeper into it he did, and found his mascot for Spring 2012, this time opening his show with a white pantsuit topped with an exaggerated headpiece of a serene white swan perched on the model’s head. A bird known to be as vicious as it is beautiful (“tricky little creatures” according to Giles) his swan evolves throughout the collection – appearing printed on trousers, skirts, dresses – right on through to his closing red-feathered gown, that sees the angelic swan headpiece transformed into a raging, violent animal.
This sort of playfulness with his literal references is common to the House of Giles. His designs are the epitome of British edginess, fun and glamour, full stop. “I like things when they are very beautiful, and I think (my work) has a slightly edgier esthetic but at the same time it’s not like it’s difficult. There’s a big proportion of women out there that like those really extra special pieces that are a little bit subversive but aren’t too, like, crazy.”
So where does it all stem from, what inspires Mr. Giles Deacon? “I was always inspired by Schiaparelli, some early Rochas pieces and Miuccia’s collections. I’m always having a trot around to see what’s on the go and get really inspired, but art and music are always what I’m sort of based within” he explains. Giles also credits London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and Sadie Coles gallery as two of the city’s landmarks that he frequents to get excited about designing.
In April, Giles stepped down from his position as Creative Director at Emanuel Ungaro after a short, year-and-a-half-long term. While he says heading up another house isn’t out of the questions, his focus now is on his brand. “I think it’s a brilliant opportunity to go work for another house, and I absolutely loved all the things I’ve done externally but you can only do so much. One of the things I really wanted to do when leaving Ungaro was to concentrate solely on pushing all the things that we can do. I really want to really grow the line.” Well, after the success of his high-street collaborations, most notably with New Look, I wonder if we can expect a lower-priced sister line in the near future? “It’s something that’s most definitely in the pipeline. I think that’s a really good area where we can do lots of the more fun things, that people really like as well…still quite dressy! It will still have the esthetic (of Giles).” On the edge of my seat and over the moon with this news all I can say is: when? “Probably next year” he tells me, and there you have it.