IT'S NO SECRET THAT WE ARE IDOL WORSHIPERS—FASHION AND PAGANISM FOREVER GO HAND IN HAND—AND WE NOTICE WHEN MEMBERS OF THE PANTHEON (I.E. COURTNEY LOVE AND JARED LETO ) START WORSHIPPING A NEW BRAND. L.A.'S ENFANTS RICHES DEPRIMES HAS MADE FAST HEADWAY AT BROWNS IN LONDON AND ANTONIA IN MILAN, AND NOW IN NEW YORK, VMAN ARE PLEASED PREMIERE THEIR FIRST EVER CAMPAIGN VIDEO, ABOVE. READ ON FOR AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DESIGNER HENRI ALEXANDER
In previous interviews you've emphasized the interconnectedness of fashion and art, stating in an interview with The Fashion Spot that you began by "painting and putting safety pins on [your] prep school jackets.” What are your feelings on painting as a practice? Any painters specifically catch your interest?
HENRI ALEXANDER LEVY: I definitely feel like painting is a practice for me. I was painting almost obsessively when I came up with the idea for the line. For me the act of painting and just the self-discipline involved in making myself sit down and paint is important. I work on clothes in the same room that I work on paintings/sculptures. I try to make one new creation a day, at least, whether it is a new shirt, painting, or sculpture. As far as other painters I am really into Robert Motherwell. I'm envious of the scale of his work. Also Cy Twombly, Antoni Tapias and Jean Dubuffet work I find particularly appealing at this point in my life. I think those that are familiar with Tapias’ work, will see he has influenced ERD from the informality to the way he uses furniture and rags. I was actually in art school at UCLA when I started the line and had my sculpture professor, Robert McMillian who was constantly challenging me to push boundaries and my art further. At the time I was playing with a lot of symbols and text in my art and that definitely had a huge influence on the way the line looked.
Enfants Riches Deprimes, roughly translated, means Depressed Rich Kids. How was the name conceived?
HAL: The line is essentially a result of my conflict between punk influences and my entitled (wealthy bourgeoisie) upbringing and my views on it. While it could be argued that there is a sort of glorification of what I know, there is also a strong correlation to Romanticism in that the revolt against aristocratic social and political norms is very present in the line in various ways.
Can you go into some details about your process of deconstruction and construction with the clothes?
HAL: So the process of deconstruction and construction all happens in my studio in L.A. I start with a really quality Pima cotton. The shirts are printed then I go about destroying them. I'll put cigarettes out on shirts, let them soak in beer, lend them to girlfriends, leave them on my roof, wear them, throw paint on them, basically whatever. I’d prefer to not reveal exactly how I make the holes if that's okay. I used to do them all myself but as the demand grew I've developed a little assembly line of art students in my studio. As far as repurposing garments and approaching them as basic material, it is a conscience choice. Where other brands spend time constructing garments I spend time destroying them.
You've previously mentioned visionaries such as Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto; what about them as designers sparks your fire?
HAL: Rei Kawakubo is super inspiring. The way she has mixed high fashion and contemporary art is great and all of her spaces are thought provoking and sharp. I just watched one of her shows from the 90s where she used old people as models. It was beautiful. As far as inspiration for design I tend to draw that from music rather than other designers. I study old Johnny Thunders and PIL (Public Image Limited) videos.
There are some celebrities who have been photographed wearing your creations, such as Jared Leto recently. Do you find this flattering or inconsequential?
HAL: It depends on the person. I'm definitely flattered whenever someone I admire wears my clothes. I feel like the line really suits Jared and he styles it really well. Courtney Love recently wore a shirt and I was pretty excited as I'm a huge Hole fan. But with anyone who I don't like I'm pretty much indifferent about it.
Do you care to go into detail about the origins of the video?
HAL: Well Ben basically came up with the concept. He filmed me working for 4 days at my studio in L.A. He just instructed me to work like I normally do and pretend he wasn't there. The models name is Ashley. She sometime hangs out while I paint.
Do you believe in and/or practice any form of magic?
HAL: Yea. Black magic.
You've already made strong steps in regards to retail, with your line being carried by Browns in London and Antonia in Milan. What's your strategy for expansion or do you want to keep distribution exclusive?
HAL: I've been really selective about what stores we are in. I'm a very visual and specific person and I like stores with great interior design and other lines that compliment mine and vice versa. I like a store to feel cold, minimal and have almost fascist like features. Not every store is right for the line and at this point I'm not too keen on taking on that many more retailers. Antonia and Browns are great and we also have some fantastic retailers out of Tokyo and Korea. I'd like to expand more into the States. As of right now I'm really taking my time to make sure every piece that leaves my studio is perfect and working on new pieces. I actually haven't had to worry about sales much luckily I've been blessed to have great stores approach me.
Are the plans in the works to embrace other items of clothing with your distinctive process? Dresses, shoes, bags, kimonos, etc?
HAL: I've been doing shoes lately. I've been spray painting John Lobbs and Vans and than branding my logo on the inside. We are dropping a jean program for SS15 that I'm really excited about too. I have a couple things in the works at the moment. Ostrich boxing gloves and custom lab coats too.
Direction Ben Clotten Editing Andre Bato Production by Henri Alexander and White Film