In conversation with CHARLES JEFFREY LOVERBOY
If you ask Sarah Mower from US Vogue, Charles Jeffrey is currently the upholder of all that is human, creative and cheerful about British Fashion. He has been compared to the fashion greatests Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Comme des Garcons. He interned at Dior, got his BA in Fashion design at Central Saint Martins, was nominated for LVMH Prize and later on won British Emerging Talent prize at 2017’s awards.
Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, is a gender-bending, flamboyant brand that maneuvers between fashion label and a cult nightclub, with each informing the other. His AW18 collection entitled “Tantrum,” was one of the most talked about runway shows of the season. Tantrum was inspired by Jeffrey’s upbringing as a gay man, bullying, and was encompassed with the power of rage as a reaction to everything he went through. The show, in addition to the runway, featured a performance from Theo Adams Company, one of Jeffrey’s most frequent collaborators.
Charles, do you think invention in fashion is even still possible, or at this time it is more about changing the fashion landscape?
I think if you strive to be inventive in fashion you will find a way to do so. Changing the fashion landscape is much harder as it requires the reaction from everyone else to lend to your vision. I feel it all depends on how your vision naturally manifests itself in the industry.
Is it important to you that people who wear your designs have a good taste? What is good taste to you anyway?
For me, good taste is confidence in yourself and your actions. So if somebody confidently goes into one of our stockist’s stores, buys and then wears one of our pieces ,then to me they have good taste and deserve to wear LOVERBOY.
Were you ever in conflict with your own taste?
All the time! Sometimes I will just go with an idea or ride with an artistic flourish, and then I find myself questioning or double taking a look at the reflection.
To quote Dazed and Confused, „Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, is the ringleader of London’s next generation of club kids.“ How do you feel when someone says that?
Not sure really, I just see myself as a someone who likes to have a good time and share that notion with everyone around me. I don’t really see myself as a club kid, to be honest.
When you work on a new collection, do you ever, at any point, even think of making clothes that could be generated for mass consumption?
We always do! When you see our rail in Paris and then actually see the clothes as separates, you can see them as having a completely different life a lot of the time. Whether it’s with a beautifully cut jacket or a cropped arran knit, it’s all about how it’s styled or delivered in the show.
What do you think today’s fashion says about our daily lives?
I think sometimes people can all look quite similar, maybe that is because of social media!? In my opinion, we should all make more of our own clothes and go to more museums!
Word! Your AW 18 was entitled „Tantrum,“ and you were inspired by „The velvet rage: Overcoming the Pain of growing up gay in a straight man world. “ by American clinical psychologist Alan Downs. The models did carry a sense of rage, but they all appeared rather vulnerable and damaged. Was it hard to work on a collection so personal?
It was really difficult! You are pushed to express yourself every six months, and my life has changed so much in that time, so I guess this collection had to explain that. When I saw the finale on the big screen and heard the music, I felt really overwhelmed with emotion, and even now I still feel like I am reflecting on that. Doing something as big as a fashion show it’s hard not to feel a lot of emotion throughout. For the future, I’m gonna take up meditation!
What marked you the most growing up as a gay kid and being constantly bullied?
I guess comparing myself to all the other boys, and trying to find a place for myself.
Make-up/facepaint was also a strong component in the show, and it somehow reminded me of Trojan. Trojan once got pissed off at people copying his look, so he decided to cut his ear off to see if they followed that. I read he got through cutting half the lobe off before fainting. Later he would paint it with glossy lipstick to make it look like a fresh cut. Do you like it when people copy you, or?
I love Trojan; there’s such a gorgeous photo of him and Leigh standing outside their house in their ‘day look,’ I have it on my wall. I don’t really notice people copying me, do they? I haven’t really seen anyone do that yet; I think I would feel complimented, though!
You also work with sculpture, video, etc. Trojan, once described his art as “fights and fucks in nightclubs,” How would you describe yours?
I see anything creative I do coming from a small goddess that lives inside me. Basically I’m just translating whatever she wants to see in the world via my words/actions/hand.
Tim Blanks, once said, „Jeffrey is speaking to young London the way Alexander McQueen spoke to his generation.“ In everything you do, there is a great sense of responsibility, especially one for LGBT community. That said, what do you strive for most in your life? Security?
Security yes, but ultimately to live an authentic life.
You created a sense of community with LOVERBOY; do you use LOVERBOY together with your name for the runway due to the fact nightlife is such great source of inspiration, and your designs are kind of just an extension of what happens at night?
You could say that, yes. To be honest, LOVERBOY was a project that helped me express myself in a way that lacked judgment and it was super freeing. I still feel the same way about the brand now, that’s why it would be weird if I didn’t have it in the brand name. The designs come from all different places now, my styling mostly, buts it’s always nice to jump back into nightlife!
You are all about collaborations; Theo Adams (Company), is one of your most frequent ones. Why is dance/performance so important to you?
It’s the one platform that, I think, carries my artistic endeavor the most. When I walk and listen to music, think about the show, I imagine performance and dance alongside the walking of the models. I just adore Theo and his Team, we are like a small family.
Just recently you won British Emerging Talent prize for 2017. What do awards mean to you?
I see them as massive validations to my friends and coworkers. I’m so pleased we won, it meant a lot to both, them and me.
How do your parents feel about the work you make, the awards you get, etc.?
They are super supportive and proud, my mum googles me regularly and posts anything she finds on Facebook. Sometimes if I need to find something me related, I’ll just go to her page, (laughs)!
You are really out there, but what is one thing most people do not know about you?
I’m really lazy!
Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY, do you feel like an adult?
Never, I’m Peter Pan.
Interview: Katja Horvat
Photos: Yannis Vlamos / Indigital.tv
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