I imagine that we have all also, at one time or another, been involved in some sort of gang – be it in the playground or maybe something a bit more post-pubescent and sinister. Either way, there’s a certain something about secret societies and clubs that is just deliciously enticing. LCF graduate and secret society fanatic Robert Ventura Gibson has burst onto the fashion scene and is currently the toast of the town with his outrageously beautiful menswear, inspired by Freemasons, Goosebumps, Illuminati, Filipino prison tattoos and Are You Afraid of The Dark. Robert kindly gave us an unbelievably intriguing in-depth interview, read on to find out the secrets of his collection…
Your final collection kind of blew us away, why was it that you chose to focus on menswear?
Thank you very much. I kinda fell into doing fashion, I’d love to say I wanted to do it since I was a kid but I’d be lying. I was studying music at Brighton Uni and decided it wasn’t for me so dropped out and did a foundation down there it wasn’t until the last term that I decided that I really enjoyed designing clothing…So I guess I chose menswear so I could design with what I already knew and what I’d like to wear. I did venture into a bit of womenswear in my first year of uni, but it always ended up looking a bit unisex.
Your sketches and mood-board pieces are brilliant! tell us about the inspiration behind the collection?
I’ve always watched a lot of TV, even as a kid, and I loved (and still do) programmes like Are You Afraid Of The Dark, Eerie Indiana, Goosebumps and films like Stand By Me. Growing up in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woodland I’d spend a lot of time outside (when I could fit in around TV schedules) climbing trees, building things, making bows and arrows etc, but I always wanted to being in a secret club, going on mad adventures and solving crimes.
So, for my collection, I wanted to draw parallels between secret childhood clubs, like “The Midnight Society” in _Are You Afraid Of The Dark_, who just met up to tell stories, and the secret societies of the New World Order, looking at the Illuminati, Freemasons and The Bilderberg Group etc who seem to (according to followers of David Icke) control everything. I just thought it was funny that there’s always that desire to being a a secret club and knowing stuff that others don’t.
My dad was a Mason, so growing up I was very aware of it, I remember always wondering what he did at lodge meetings, what was in his briefcase and if I’d ever find out anything. I’m just realising it now, but I guess for me freemasonry has always had a connection with childhood. Spending so much time reading about secret societies has certainly had an effect on me though, just search “Illuminati olympics 2012” on Youtube, its a whole world of paranoia to get sucked into.
With regards to the actual product, I wanted to use classic menswear shapes to keep it wearable, twisted slightly with colour and surface decoration, so everything seemed a little off-kilter from the norm. I’m not someone who’s really strong at structural pattern cutting and crazy shapes, I’m a bit of a traditionalist and I guess I want to design clothes that I can show my mum and she’ll understand what’s going on and not wonder what I was doing at uni for seven years.
The models you haves chosen are perfect, how did you go about selecting the right men for the job, and what was the reason behind the choice of setting?
My models were a mix of professional and street-cast, (LCF holds an annual street-casting event for the shows). I really wanted a range of guys. I know its quite the trend at the moment, in menswear at least, to have a regular-looking range of different guys modelling shows, but I think for my work it was quite important. Because my stuff has quite traditional shapes and tailored garments I didn’t want it to feel too slick and smart.
I also wanted to balance the quirkiness (I’m not a fan of this word but all the thesaurus gave was “kooky” and “kinky”) with models with a bit more masculinity. When I was doing research on kids and gangs I remember seeing Filipino prison tattoos (i’m 50% Filipino, so was really into these). I loved how naive they were and had them on my wall for ages wanting to include them somewhere but the aesthetic didn’t really fit out of context, but other tattoos did seem to work well. I found that they really complimented the print and embroidery, with a lot of masonic imagery being popular in tattooing.
Has the collection had a good response so far?
Yeah got lots of great feedback, from friends, blogs etc. Although, a friend of mine emailed a Freemason with my work and the response just read “hmmmmm,” but hey, maybe actual masons aren’t my market.
What are your plans for the future?
Does this question ever get a straight answer from a new graduate? Who knows, I’ve got a whole folder full of notes on collection ideas, a lot of them mental, but I’ll probably spend a bit of time developing a few and see what comes of it. I’ve suddenly just become obsessed with Woody Allen movies, so maybe you can look forward to a neurotic collection that i’ll never look at once iIve finished it.
If you could design an outfit for one person, who would it be?
I couldn’t possibly say, i thought about this for a while and it’s quite hard to commit. A few people have come to mind, none of them really that appropriate. God, I even had "any of the cast of Only Fools And Horses in the shortlist.