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Seamlessly transitioning between the world of art and fashion, London based designer Simeon Farrar’s spring 2012 collection ‘The Great British Summertime’ taps into all my English sensibilities. A delightful take on Britain’s somewhat temperamental summer weather, clothes and accessories with cloud and rain prints in neon colours layered with rainbow drops makes for a cheerful interpretation of how we Brits make the most of things. Simeon explained, “Our weather is all we ever talk about and so to base a collection on it is a gift, a constant source of material.” He continued, “I liked the idea of making our terrible summers something. I do a lot of things with rainbow colours so this also fitted in perfectly.”
With a background in Fine Art, experimentation with mixed media works (screen-printing and painting) led Farrar to translate ideas from art onto t-shirts, the garment being viewed as another surface albeit with different properties to a canvas. The tees sold well, Farrar’s label took off and he has since received international acclaim as well as being the recipient of the renowned NEWGEN award on three separate occasions.
I asked Farrar about the challenges he encountered in carrying ideas from art over onto clothes: “There were many, many challenges in doing this, the biggest one being that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing”, he replied (and very honestly, too!). He continued, “As an artist I am used to making single artworks and not duplicating, so having to make multiples of a piece of clothing was a real drag at first.” Farrar concluded by telling me, “I don’t think I have room on this page for the rest of the challenges, so let’s just say it’s all good now!”
Each of Farrar’s pieces is unique. The design process starts with drawings based around a particular theme, the best of which are made into screens for printing. “The images tend to change as they get printed so I then make more drawings and then more screens. We rarely just do a straight print and always combine prints, wash them, spray them or paint them” Farrar described. Prints are a major signature yet Farrar’s designs are also recognisable for the quirky characters he utilises (if you follow @SimeonFarrar on Twitter you would recently have witnessed a hilarious debate about photoshopping a cute and wide eyed fawn). Farrar’s ‘Kate Mouse’ is likely the most famous of these creatures. I asked Simeon if he loved the character as much as we do, to which he replied, “Of course, me and Kate go way back. We’ve been going steady for a while now, she’s awesome”.
At the end of last year Farrar held an exhibition at The Basement Gallery in London. I wondered if this meant a return to ‘art’ for Farrar, who hasn’t exhibited solo for a while. He told me, “This does mean a return to art but in no way is fashion a phase. It has taken a lot of time and effort to get the company to the point that it’s at and art had to take a sideline.” He continued, “I have always wanted both sides to run alongside each other as they are both linked and both feed the other. There really should be no separation between the two.”