What hasn’t Brian Phillips done? Founder of Black Frame, one of the fashion industry’s most powerful PR companies, Brian has spent the past few years rebranding Helmut Lang, working as the creative director of Garage Magazine and collaborating with the likes of Eckhaus Latta, Nike, Opening Ceremony and Hunter.
Brian’s stellar career started with a placement at Visionaire, where the designer interned for two years during his undergraduate studies at Columbia University. “It was there I first met and had the opportunity to work with Hedi Slimane, Inez & Vinoodh and many other phenomenally talented designers, artists and photographers,” Brian tells It’s Nice That. “Visionaire was an incredible place to be at that time in 2000. I remember Björk dropping by for lunch one day, and Karl Lagerfeld bartending at one of our parties.”
It was in 2004 that Brian set up Black Frame alongside Hedi Slimane, and signed Dior Homme as his first client. “I often spotted young talents — like Acne at Opening Ceremony — and then got in contact to start working with them,” Brian recalls. “I represented Acne for five years at the very beginning and set up all their first global communications parties, shows, special projects and celebrity connections. Black Frame built up the fashion brand from day one — just like we did with Rodarte and Opening Ceremony.” Brian is not your average talent scout. After years of successful PR endeavours, Brian decided to extend his expertise by launching a creative and advertising division, Framework, in 2011 to focus on creative direction, content, branding, advertising and brand strategy.
Framework went on to conceptualise and create Helmut Lang’s new visual identity, bringing “the brand back in conversation with its heritage and its core values and codes, while moving it into the future”. Brian also became the Creative Director of Garage Magazine allowing him to work closely with photographers, stylists and artists for the editorial platform. He says: “I’ve been really focused on working with directors, photographers and talent who are incredibly diverse in background and are not homogenous in their point of view.”
Brian’s latest project is Kenzo’s SS18 YO! My Saint campaign, which includes a film, directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, and a set of complimentary images by Mayan Toledano. The surreal short tells the story of a photographer who is unhappily enamoured with two of his muses. “We decided to make YO! My Saint a film with a cast of people of all Asian backgrounds to push for greater representation of Asians in Hollywood and fashion via a piece which felt very much in the spirit of Kenzo,” Brian says. The film’s soundtrack was composed by Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O and substantiates the melancholic feelings of the unfortunate protagonist.
“Wong Kar-wai is a major reference for Karen O and Ana Lily Amirpour. I think you can see this in the casting, the mood and the visuals,” Brian explains. With its saturated colours and “album cover aesthetics”, YO! My Saint is a poetic tribute to the celebrated fashion brand. Brian’s strength is his unapologetic readiness to step outside the box and experiment with new genres, formats and media, cementing Framework’s place at the spearhead of the creative industry for years to come.