INTERVIEW WITH

EMMA HOPE

ALLWOOD

Before the new decade got out of bed, Men’s Fashion Week was on in London. One of many the next couple of months. We met with Head of Fashion at Dazed Digital, Emma Hope Allwood, in her East London home to talk about the relationship between music and fashion in the 2010s and the future.

What are your thoughts looking back, on the relationship between music and fashion in the 2010s?

Fashion has always looked towards music and subculture for inspiration, but I think it was a decade where the two came together in a more complete way. If you look at the grunge collection Marc Jacobs designed for Perry Ellis in the 90s (1992), it was super inspired by what was happening in music – he actually sent the whole collection to Kurt and Courtney and they burned it, which is hilarious.

Now you have someone like A$AP Rocky, who has been hugely influential over the past decade. I’ve been looking back at some of his early music videos where he’s wearing Supreme, Rick Owens, those Jeremy Scott x adidas – I think that was an important moment. We have to give musicians credit for bringing these things to a mainstream audience, especially with the influence of streetwear, and people being willing to pay £800 for a hoodie – seeing it on their favourite rapper legitimises it as an aspirational item. 

What’s been the best outcome of music and fashion coming together in this more complete way?

I think it’s made the fashion industry look outside of itself and appreciate that it doesn’t necessarily know what people want as much as it thought it did. It’s been interesting to see brands falling behind and then scrambling to try and identify what’s cool and relevant. Fashion sometimes struggles to break through its own bubble and that’s been a huge reckoning when it comes to making the industry more diverse; there’s been many brands that have partnered with musicians in an attempt to use their relevancy. 

What’s been one particularly memorable fashion and music moment of the 2010s for you?

In 2012, Kanye wore this Givenchy kilt by then-designer Riccardo Tisci for a televised performance. The backlash was so big and so homophobic – you forget how much the world has changed in the eight years since that happened. What else has changed in that time is social media: you have these incredible artists who have their own platforms where they can experiment with fashion, where everyone pays attention to everything they wear everything they do. It becomes a mutually beneficial relationship between musicians and designers. Then again, Kanye is an interesting case – he’s not on social media, and spent years of his life trying to be recognised as someone who would be taken seriously as a fashion designer. Some people probably still wouldn’t.

What’s been one particularly memorable fashion and music moment of the 2010s for you?

In 2012, Kanye wore this Givenchy kilt by then-designer Riccardo Tisci for a televised performance. The backlash was so big and so homophobic – you forget how much the world has changed in the eight years since that happened. What else has changed in that time is social media: you have these incredible artists who have their own platforms where they can experiment with fashion, where everyone pays attention to everything they wear everything they do. It becomes a mutually beneficial relationship between musicians and designers. Then again, Kanye is an interesting case – he’s not on social media, and spent years of his life trying to be recognised as someone who would be taken seriously as a fashion designer. Some people probably still wouldn’t.

Do you?

Yeah! It’s difficult because obviously he’s been having a weird time lately. But if we’re looking at the last ten years, I think he’s contributed the most out of anyone. Okay he’s not curing diseases, but if we’re talking about art and culture...

Most definitely. He lives in the future.

And on another planet! The Yeezy apparel has obviously been very influential and much copied, but came during a time where everyone was going towards being very branded. Maybe we’re ready for his vision now.

The 2010’s came with the end of the Victoria’s Secret fashion shows after 24 years. Rihanna’s lingerie brand Savage x Fenty has been named the more up to date replacement, for one because their models represent a much more diverse body image. What are your thoughts on that?

I think Savage x Fenty is another good example of realising that there is such an incredible power in musicians when it comes to fashion. That was very good timing on Rihanna’s part – ultimately Victoria’s Secret failed to adapt and closed their ears to what everyone was trying to tell them, that inclusivity was going to dominate the conversation. You could’ve asked so many people five years ago what was gonna happen to the lingerie market, it was clear the direction things were going. 

I think Rihanna is an incredible businesswoman but to me, it’s still a very sexy vision of women in underwear. There’s nothing wrong with that, and clearly the models feel empowered by it. I'm just intrigued to see where it goes.

Do you think Rihanna should just drop the album?

Rihanna should do whatever she wants! No, I think it’s amazing to see a musician be so polymathic and be such a businesswoman. It speaks a lot to how the nature of brands and musicians are changing and how people are expecting more from both of them. 

Who’s the most inspiring artist at the moment in your opinion?

I guess it’s the idea of what does that change looks like. Billie Eilish is the icon for teens everywhere. She is someone who has such a unique and uncompromising sense of style. The way she dresses is very intentionally unsexualised and I think she represents a very independent vision of young women today.

So, Savage x Fenty could learn from Billie Eilish?

Yeah, and at the same time brands don’t have to be everything for everyone.

What challenges do you see for these industries in the next 10 years?

Everyone industry has to face the fact that sustainability is something you have to think about. Now we finally have come to a place where people think “Oh maybe we shouldn’t fly someone across the globe for one day or create this look for a tour that gets thrown in the bin afterwards”. The key for overcoming these issues is going to be collaboration.

Like Coldplay saying they’re not going on tour for environmental reasons. 
Could you imagine having all the fashion weeks in one city? 

Yeah, in an ideal world the future of Fashion Week could be something like having 15 slots for fashion shows and all the brands are put in a raffle – if you don’t get a spot then better luck next season. There are these perceptions that brands have to do certain things like have these big shows – it’s the same with musicians. That’s something we need to interrogate and think about if it’s really necessary.

Makes sense. Most people only see the photos from fashion shows. When you’re at a show do you notice the music choice?

Absolutely, I think you should notice it – it’s part of the whole experience, it makes you pay attention and think about the collection in a different way. At the recent SS20 Balenciaga show you could tell that the atmosphere has been thought out and very carefully executed, they pumped in really cold air and these weird fragrances they created. The music was the kind of thing that if you were a teenager and played it your parents would get concerned, almost painfully loud heavy metal mixed with some like, Jaws-esque theme music. It was clear did all this made this to you uncomfortable. 

Is everyone this creative now or is there still a fashion show equivalent to elevator music?

Oh yes! There are these songs you can count on someone using every single Fashion Week. Vivaldi by Max Richter, without fail. Bauhaus - Bella Lugosi’s Dead is another one of them.

Credits:
Portrait and Words by Sara Frost
Pictures from Getty Images