To Die For, the third and most recent collection of London-based denim brand I AND ME, follows a fresh creative direction, which moves away from the rather organic touches of previous work. Military tropes and sharp structures are embedded in this collection, maintaining the focus on functionality and quality of fabric, which are the values at the core of the brand.
With the occasion, I AND ME have invited illustrator Cecilé Gariépy to reflect on and interpret the collection. One might find a paradox at work in looking at once at the I AND ME creations and Cecilé´s illustrations: whereas one proposes a type of visual and sartorial stoicism, reflected in sombre colours and uncompromising cuts, the other delves into more serene moods, with softer tones and vibrant settings. The artist herself sees this approach as emanating from a “side of love,” a place of creative disposition that seeks truth beyond any restraints of shape and colour, and integrates the paradox into a larger, more complex form of affection.
Cecilé Gariépy and I AND ME Creative Director Jessica Gebhart discuss the intentions, results, and emotions around this project.
Elena Stanciu: This collaboration produced quite a unique and bold set of illustrations, bursting with joy and vitality. How did this project come about?
Jessica Gebhart: I originally contacted Cecile to collaborate on a pop-up window display, but we ran out of time. I was soon to be launching our third collection, To Die For, and thought an original, illustrative take on the collection would be exciting to collaborate on.
Cecilé Gariépy: I was really excited when I AND ME approached me because it was the first time I was working with the fashion industry, and I was eager to explore other types of characters than in my previous work.
ES: To Die For delves into a slightly different aesthetic than your previous collections. Could you talk a bit about the approach in this collection and what inspired the line? What did you, Cecilé, find most interesting to integrate in your work?
JG: I was inspired by installation art, in particular the works of Karla Black and Jeanne Claude & Christo and their impermanent art. This moved into the idea of the military wear and how uniforms and the landscape are used in conjunction with fabric and form, in an installation way: “Here today, gone tomorrow.” To Die For is a larger, more accomplished collection. The backbone is still based on high quality fabrics and beautifully designed garments. Annie Lai, the photographer who shot the look book, caught a really beautiful but slightly awkward mood that ran through the shoot. We felt it represented the collection perfectly. The palette and silhouettes, the fabric installation, and eerie mood compliment the military influence, but in a modern way.
CG: I found this mix of character and space interesting. Looking at the collection pictures, I particularly liked the positioning of the models, and the use of space. Their nonchalant postures inspired me and I could see a lot of potential to use for my characters. I really appreciated the colour palette – also a strong element.
ES: Jessica, what elements of the To Die For collection do you find to be reflected the strongest in Cécile´s illustrations? What would you say this series adds to the universe of this collection?
JG: Cecilé’s illustrations are particularly fresh; that is what drew me to her in the first place. Her use of colour and silhouettes reflect what I AND ME is all about: individuality, depth, and a sort of limitlessness of the creative process involved. In this sense, her illustrations propose a new take on the collection. That’s why we love collaborating with artists on our projects – it is always exciting and enriching to see how other people interpret the brand.
ES: Cecilé, your interpretation of the collection proposes a slightly different tone: To Die For is rather austere and restrained, whereas your illustrations bring colour, closeness, and a sort of joyful agitation. What inspired you to explore this direction?
CG: Instead of taking these words literally, I interpreted this theme from the side of love – perhaps as if the characters loved each other too much. I especially wanted to bring out a duo of characters linked by emotions.
ES: Illustration is a very rich and giving medium, with a world-making capacity that often leads to larger-than-life scenarios and narratives. What can designers and other creatives in the fashion world borrow/learn from this medium?
CG: I believe that the medium of illustration makes it possible to tell stories and emotions that are hardly translated into words. It is this particularity that inspires me the most, and that could inspire any type of creator. It is a basis for imagining.
ES: What emotions do you imagine these illustrations trigger in viewers? And what thoughts?
CG: By their colours and their round shapes, I wish above all that they inspire comfort and well-being, but also that they suggest the quality of the fabric. We want to snuggle in because it seems comfortable, as we want to snuggle up against the loved one!
Words: Elena Stanciu