ARTICLE CHRISTOPHER TENNANT
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY SLOW LORIS PUBLISHING
In the late 1980s, Comme des Garçons designer Michael Costiff and his wife, Gerlinde, were “London’s Most Glamorous Couple”—and kept the journals to prove it. This month, Louis Vuitton maestro Kim Jones gives them their proper due by showing the world their archives. Michael & Gerlinde’s World is the first book on Jones’s new imprint Slow Loris Publishing.
How did it feel to go through all your archives?
Michael Costiff It was rather exhilarating, actually. It was all shoved away and I never looked at it myself aside from occasionally digging through to find a particular photo. It gave me a reason to dive back in and to realize there had actually been a point to hanging on to it all!
How did you first connect with Kim?
MC We met a few years ago out and about, and it was at a dinner party one night that I mentioned that Gerlinde and I had always kept diaries, so when he visited my a flat a few weeks later, I asked if he would like to see one. I was quite amazed by his enthusiastic reaction as he pored over each page. Of course, out came another diary, and it turned into a very late night!
What’s your favorite memory from that era?
MC I’m actually quite overwhelmed seeing our diaries in book form. Each page contains a whole world of memories. The images are so strong each new page makes you seem to forget the ones before. There’s a lot in it.
How’s your working relationship with Rei Kawakubo?
MC I had a really hard couple of years after Gerlinde died so suddenly in ’94. We had always been together, and I was very lost. It was Rei who was my savior by finding me and inviting me to have a space in her Dover Street Market shop in London and later Tokyo and Beijing. She is always very kind to me. She likes my history, my style, and most of all my taste. She pretty much encourages me to do whatever I like. It’s good to be part of the Comme des Garçons family. I’m very lucky.
What was so special about Kinky Gerlinky? Were the parties really as fun as people say?
MC In all honesty, yes! Gerlinde and I never wanted to be club promoters, but a friend persuaded us to have a party night in a West End club. We had just returned from Carnival in Rio, and London seemed horribly gray by comparison. The acid house scene was just starting with dress-down raves in warehouses and we wanted somewhere we could dress up and have a laugh. Our friends told their friends and it just grew and grew, moving to bigger and bigger clubs. This was before e-mail and mobile phones, remember. We did everything from our kitchen table! We had a huge guest list, of course, and quite a strict door policy that was as much about attitude as it was about outfits. Everyone was up for doing cabarets and catwalk competitions and we really encouraged an anything-goes ethos. It was a riot.
Why aren’t there more parties like that today?
MC Maybe there are! But in this digital information age, it’s difficult to keep things underground for long. I still have lots of fun nights out, just a different kind of fun.