NOKI - The Interview
NOKI to me has always been a character of intrigue; a subversive British designer, artist and stylist, first appearing in the mid ‘90s, clad behind the anonymous guise of a mask. Outspoken about the changing digital landscape and looming mass consumerism of fashion he championed the concept of ‘customisation’ - taking second hand clothes and reworking them into ‘One-Off’ fashion garments. Move forward 15 years and the NOKI vision feels ever more prevalent, with the fashion industry fully embracing digital media and the British Fashion Council’s initiative, Estethica celebrating it’s 10th season at LFW. I spoke to NOKI fresh off the back of his AW11-12 debut at MAN Paris and gained an exclusive insight into his unique and fascinating world.
What is inspiring you right now?
- My pencil drawings
- Sherlock Holmes
- The blunt end of a graffiti pen
- The Guarana Bar in Brighton, for Kean's Supreme Greens
- Showcasing the first dedicated NOKI menswear collection, NOKI-NOIR pour Dandy.
You always cite by Kalle Lasn, as a continual influence, in what way does he affect you?
I read his book ‘Culture Jamm’ and it opened my mind to the impending technological, digital world we now live in. He was angry about the embargo on Canadian and American television to air his subversive films questioning the norm. Culture Jamm was his reaction following on by Adbusters magazine. He created subtle, subversive changes within advertising on billboards, well before the so called art we know now. His take on change struck a chord and inspired a NOKI Culture Jamm in the fashion industry.
What drove you to make a statement against mass consumerism in fashion?
Every industry has a machine that drives it without question and supports personal insecurities. Fashion to me was a celebration, something fun to wear to express my future. To create a NOKI One-Off, is a pleasure, it lives within its own 'truthful trend' and is driven by the human love of a unique statement - a new fashion future.
You use masks in your work – how does anonymity strengthens your message?
The NOKI SOB mask is very important. Nothing I do is difficult, so the mask makes it mysterious. It creates an arresting level of intent that the viewer has to think about before they even have time to blink. Each mask is made from the left over pieces of sustainable Dr NOKI canvas making sure the NOKI brand is exclusive.
Which designers do you identify with and why?
Fred Butler, Craig Lawrence, Louise Gray, and the old school; Geoffrey Beene, Yves Saint Laurent, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior and Paco Rabanne - they all express a unique quality of vision, a direction born out of vocation not visceral intent to be directional. This kind of work is a respectful extension of artistic evolution without being a desperate player in a game without rules. I create fashion from new world textiles, following on from true unsung masters like; Judy Blame, Christopher Nemeth and Jean Colonna. These fashion artists create from the heart without question of trend, they are the trend, but are kind enough to lend us their vision.
What do you predict for the future landscape of fashion?
Mass fashion is eating itself; it's had its hay day. Now that a lot of fashion media is moving onto the Internet, truthful rhyme and reason is finally getting through. How this is policed can now be your business, paper formats are very editorially locked down by brand power. Fashion has educated far more people than niche markets could ever have done about style, shape, colour and silhouette but I think it is part of a modern fashion process that the new style addicted will look elsewhere for their fashion fix.
What impact would like to have in 2011?
To just keep going for another 15 years, it's been a slow trickle of creative enjoyment making the One-Off. The fashion market is changing and NOKI is fitting into it more than ever. The British Fashion Council are very supportive of the sustainable movement giving it strong foundations to be exported all over the world, keeping the British fashion design flag aloft. We have a unique take that comes from the heart beat of the brain not the assimilated click of a mouse. How this creative island becomes sunk under the technological tsunami is history in itself.
Images courtesy of NOKI.
Posted by Faye Heran