Anna Langdon is an exciting fledgling Australian fashion designer, who - after being blown away by her graduate collection - we had to interview. Read the interview and watch a behind-the-scenes video of her graduate collection shoot with Thom Kerr, below.
What drew you to fashion in the first place?
As a child I was always looking for ways to express myself and fashion was my most effective medium. With a background in dancing, performance and theatre, I find I have been influenced by flamboyant and extravagant costume, and the way in which clothing can be used to communicate a story. My love for constructing shapes in fabrics, mixed with my penchant for story-telling is what eventually led me to a career in fashion.
Explain your journey until now, from your initial interest, through study up until now.
Studying fashion design is not as glamorous as it sounds. The course I studied at The Fashion Design Studio Ultimo (with past graduates such as Dion Lee, Gary Bigeni, Nicki Zimmerman, Alex Perry, Akira Igosawa), is gruelling and intense. However, if you are committed and willing to work hard, it is very rewarding. In 2010, some of my design work won me the opportunity to represent Australia and New Zealand in the SDC International Fashion Design Competition and I was flown to London for two weeks.
Since graduating, and after my collection showed at Loreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, I have been focussing on diverse projects and working with some amazingly creative people. Most recently, I've been lucky enough to work with up-and-coming filmmakers Ryan Barry-Cotter and Samuel Raftl on two experimental fashion films. Ryan and Sam are both very creative in photography and technically brilliant in post-production and we were able to combine our ideas and create some really interesting work on the two fashion films we have made, A Moment Makes Now and Concertina. Collaborating in film has been so exciting.
What is it about the medium of fashion that you find powerful?
What I find very interesting is the transformation process that comes with fashion, and the freedom to create a character and a story through the colour, texture, shape and combination of garments. It is also such a personal expression - a beautiful garment is given life and purpose by the wearer. It is exciting to think of the interaction between the garment and the human body beneath. In fashion, these are inseparable.
Describe your aesthetic.
I like to think of my fashion work as experimental and unusual, glamorous and gaudy, tripped out but well cut. I pay very close attention to detail but my goal is keep the overall vision in mind. I like to try new shapes and I am excited by anything that treads the fine line between beautiful and ghastly.
What other designers or creatives - in the fashion realm or otherwise - are you inspired by and why?
Rei Kuwakabo, the Japanese fashion designer who is the creative force behind Comme des Garcons, is such an inspiration. Her company invents fashion. I admire her ability to create serious fashion and simultaneously challenge the very notion of fashion through her work. Historically, I admire Cristobal Balenciaga who revolutionised cutting techniques in women's tailored fashion. He was technically brilliant. I draw so much creative inspiration from the music of Noah Lennox, otherwise known as Panda Bear, and I love David Bowie and Led Zeppelin. I also like the work of author Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
What are your thoughts on the state of the Australian fashion industry at the moment? Exciting? Mundane? Economically successful? Struggling?
It is an interesting time for Australian fashion designers. The calibre of work our fashion designers are producing is so strong, but the future is so uncertain at a time when even major retailers are struggling. It is difficult for designers to be completely experimental when commercial viability is so important, but it is in these trying times we should see the greatest innovation. I am excited to see Australian design continue to find it's own unique aesthetic, distinguished from the rest of the world. This will be an important part of keeping Australian design relevant.
The fashion industry is going through a revolution of sorts as High Street brands rip off designers and are often able to get cheap knock offs into store before the designer versions have hit. What are your thoughts on the advent of 'fast fashion'. Do you think it will stick around in the long term?
There is a trend towards 'conscious' shopping which I think will certainly gather momentum. Most shoppers now demand the trendiest item for the lowest price and this will naturally lead them to cheap knock offs and the internet. However, the conscious shoppers are very concerned about quality, ethical manufacture, design philosophy, and the idea that their purchase is contributing positively to society. Inevitably, we must all be conscious shoppers, because the fashion industry's current trajectory is not necessarily sustainable for a healthy Australian fashion industry - environmentally, socially, economically or intellectually. And good quality clothing looks so much better!
How has the internet and advent of online shopping changed the fashion industry, in your opinion?
What are you working on at the moment?
I am taking a break from collections this year, and instead experimenting on various projects and using the opportunity to explore the different modes available for interacting with fashion, such as the films I have worked on, photoshoot collaborations, exhibitions and design collaborations. There are several projects keeping me busy at the moment, including a limited edition accessories line due later in the year.
Tell us about your graduate collection, and the photo shoot you did with Thom Kerr.
Thom and I had so much fun working together on the shoot. Chris Leger, who had just arrived back from his celebrity styling role in London, styled the garments from my graduate collection into new looks, and we played around with accessories until we came up with the strong looks you see in the shoot. Thom has a real talent for directing models. Rose, visiting from London, was unsure of the kitsch and kooky style at first, but soon enough she felt comfortable doing some very strange poses and really got into character. Thom and I both have a background in performance and dramatic arts, and I feel like this enabled us to understand each other and connect on a creative level as soon as we met. I love the shoot, I think it really captures the humour of my collection, 'Kitschfolk und Kindheit', whilst acknowledging the detail and technical qualities of each garment.
Anna Langdon created a behind-the-scenes video with Ryan Barry-Cotter and Samuel Raftl of her latest campaign shoot, photographed by Thom Kerr:
Check out her latest collection in full over here, and check out a couple of our favourite outfits, below.