Sunday, 27 June 2010

Pleased to Meet another British talent.

'Boxheads' the creation which caught the eye of Katie Grand by James Barnett

'Tower' costume 3 by James Barnett

'Tower' Costume 2 by James Barnett

'Tower' costume 1 by James Barnett

Strapped by James Barnett

Seventh Man are pleased to introduce you to James Barnett, a Central St Martin's graduate who caught the critical eye of- former CSM student - Katie Grand well before graduating and has since recieved praise from some of the most influential press in the industry.

Having recently been awarded a first class honours degree for Perfomance Design and Practise (BA Hons) we decided it was time to better understand this forward thinking creative. Obviously you come from a performing background, how has this manipulated your personal style if at all? JB: The work I like to make treads that fine line which exists between performance and fashion. I've just graduated in 'Performance: Design and Practise' at CSM, which required me to perform quite a bit of my realised work. This means that I have learnt to exploit the physicality of my own body in the costumes I create. I work with my height, my awkward posture and my ridiculously long limbs - and literally ANYTHING which can exaggerate these different elements : poles, sink plungers, boxes, rubbish bins ...

That fantastical hat - your exhibition piece - what was the idealism behind that? Were there any specifics you were trying to convey?

This design was initially for a dance piece entitled 'Tower'. I'm quite obsessed by skyscrapers and BIG buildings. They have this ominous presence and yet are reassuringly passive; a constant point of focus existing in amongst the humdrum of everyday life.
With my costume for 'Tower', I hoped to convey the overwhelming presence these super structures have when they are bearing down on me. The costume consumes me, forcing me to stand rigidly, I become this unfaltering 10 foot edifice.

I like to think whilst wearing the costume I am transmitting to all the other skyscrapers around me.

Your work has been a hit in the highest of fashion circles. Was this an intentional target or pleasantly shocking turn of events?

Both! I find it impossible to define what sort of designer I am, and just hope the work I produce has a resonance somewhere. My degree has taught me to appraoch costuming in a very experimental way, so it ends up being fairly unusual which lends itself well for styling fashion shoots, amongst other things. I just hope people are drawn to my bold, simple, style.

What are your main inspirations when it comes to design? Are there any certain genres that captivate you or characters/plays... your exhibition piece looked very sci-fi and extremely high fashion, have you been inspired by designers as you have developed in your own style?

I'm a closet geek, and love a lot of 60s science fiction films and the cultish ethos of the Bauhaus. I've taken inspiration from performance artists like Rebecca Horn and Leigh Bowery. I'm really excited by what Gaga is doing at the moment - she is blurring lines between performance and fashion more than anyone has done in the last decade, but crucially, she is doing it infront of a mass audience.

If you could use your art to change the world, what would you change?

I think it's time we started dressing how people imagined we would dress in the future. It's already 2010, and I don't see anyone casually wearing silver spandex on the street. Isn't it time we started dressing like characters from 'Logan's Run'?

Visit James at

Interviewed By Lucy Swan.

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