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Monday, 05 May 2008

The Hyeres Experience by Graham Tabor photos by Miguel Villalobos

Dear SHaded Viewers,

All photos by Miguel Villalobos

DP: Let’s talk about your Hyeres experience but first; let’s talk about you. Can you give me a little history?

GT: I grew up in Michigan in the northern United States.

At university I studied art history and international relations. I was studying in Paris at Paris IV and ended up interning for Sebastien Meunier. I had taken a couple of pattern making classes back in the us, but I was pretty raw when I started. After a while I had to go back to the US to finish my thesis and then came back to work with Sebastien some more.

I moved back to NY in 2003. Since then I've been designing for various brands in NY and doing my photo/styling projects with Miguel.

DP: How did the whole Hyeres experience begin for you?

GT: I knew about Hyeres because Sebastien won the menswear prize many years ago. I came to the festival for the first time last year because I was working with a magazine that was a partner with the festival. The energy was like nothing I'd ever experienced at a fashion event and the villa struck me as a really special place. I left the festival decided to submit a dossier and started working on it on the plane ride back to NY.

DP: Let’s pretend that we can rewind the jury experience and tell me what you
meant to tell them?

GT: This might be really long...

The collection was based around an interest in fragments, which came about in two parallel ways. The first was cultural and the second physical.

Culturally, I was interested in the heritage cultures leave behind and how we collect that knowledge. Those that come later are only left with silent partial objects and have to create the story around these fragments. That's part of the basis for a lot of the accessories and knitwear. So you have knit undergarments that are incredibly light coming undone as if they are a whisper of what they once were, braids that bind the feet giving the notion of what might have been sandals and masks and decoration that reference ritual, but no one we can readily distinguish.

Physically, fragmentation developed as an actual process of removal. But instead of removal in the traditional sense, as something that uncovers or reveals something, I wanted to use it to enact a transformation on the body. For this I was in part inspired by the building extractions of Gordon Matta-Clark from the 60's and 70's. What I loved when I looked at those was how by removing a portion of the buildings he transformed and energized the space and how you interacted with it. This idea was really important for the tailoring. The tailoring is based on the idea of removing a fragment and rebuilding the garment around the removal and thereby transforming how we perceive the body underneath. The energy residue of this action is felt in the transformed silhouette i.e. the deformed shoulders, the exaggerated pockets, the shifting seams and lapels.

This also evolved in to a larger experimentation with the idea of transformation and aborted transparency. The blazers, instead of showing the body through the transparency of their fabric, transform its dimensions. The black silk series has apertures cut out, only for them to be filled back in through the pattern cutting. The knitwear, instead of being about the transparency created by the holes and the open stitches of the undergarments, is layered to give the appearance of transforming the skin's texture. The masks and hair are layered lattice works that are filled with perforations through which we can see, but they transform the physiognomy the head.


Throughout the collection there is this struggle between delicacy and violence brought about by the contrasts between transparency and transformation. It is almost like the clothes affect a soft violence on the body like they were cocoons that instead of protecting the body were actually changing it. I like to think, that if they body was in the clothes long enough, it would distort to match the garments. The texture of the undergarments would imprint on the skin. The shoulders would pitch and deform to match the tailoring...


DP: Let’s talk about the whole process from experiments with stitches to painting
tree branches and whose idea were the black painted chicken feet?

GT: My process can be really long at times. I spend a lot of time collecting materials, reading, looking and playing with stitches. My apartment has bags of little things I've collected or made. Once I start sketching and draping I do, undo and redo... I actually filled up three sketchbooks working on this collection. The upside is that once all that work is done you could extract a commercial collection from it in minutes. All that hard work is also the part I enjoy; it becomes meditative when it's right.

For the knitwear I was really lucky in that STOLL agreed to collaborate with me on the project and make all of the knitwear in their research and development center so I had access to the newest machines and best technicians. If you notice, all of the undergarments were knit completely without seams.

My first idea for the showroom was to create a psychological space to contextualize the garments. A bit like when you encounter a Louise bourgeois installation, as if you stepped into the physical manifestation of someone's psyche. Although I had to scale it down a little bit to work as a showroom...

I liked the idea of everything being black because you related to it instantly as a whole object. It also felt a bit mystical, without referencing a specific culture or tradition. The chicken feet were originally for the accessories. Kristin ordered them online. I added them because they felt simultaneously delicate and slightly ominous.

DP: Who all was on your team and what did each of them contribute to your show?

GT: Krisitin Victora Barron created the accessories.
Chinatsu Nobe created the hair.
Fumi Nakagawa created the make up, which I like to think of as the birthmarks or stains of the characters that inhabit these garments.

Plus Miguel, my mom and a lot of friends who came to support me and help with anything and everything they could.

DP: What were your emotions when you first arrived at the Villa till the day that you left?
GT: I felt really privileged to be there. I love the villa and how it is simultaneously modern and medieval. It was really fun for the most part a bit like going to art summer camp but we can drink and know a little more about our selves. Stressful too, but over all fun. By the end I felt a bit exploded. Doing 3 shows, the showroom and the Jury presentation in the span of 2 1/2 days is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. For the first 7 days you feel like all you do is wait and then everything happens all of the sudden.

DP: What were the most surreal experiences there?
GT:The trip home. I didn't think we were going to make it.

DP: What were the high points and what were the low ones? Would you do it again?
Now knowing what the experience was like?

GT: The end of the last show was the high and the low. Chinatsu and Fumi were so upset we didn't win. More than I was, I think. It was really touching and powerful to see how important the whole experience was to them. I realized how lucky I was to work with them.

Arts and crafts slumber parties with Kristin and Chinatsu and hyeres Haikus come in as a close second for a high...

I would do it again in a second. I get chills when I hear my music.


DP: What were some of the most interesting comments on your work?
GT:I had a journalist come up and say something along the lines of congratulations; I'm not quite sure what it was, but congratulations.

I had another journalist ask me if I saw it more as performance art then fashion. I wear the clothes now that it's over, so there's definitely at least some fashion.

There were also two 7-year-old children that thought it was quite literary. That was one of my favorites.

DP: What did you think of the showroom as opposed to installation?

GT: I was a little disappointed because I'd been planning an installation in my head for months, but I think it was a lot easier for the journalists and headhunters to spend time with the designers. It also created a good atmosphere amongst the designers because we all spent time together and worked around each other.

DP: How was it working with Maida Gregory?
GT: Maida has an incredible eye. She also pushed for me to get away with all my crazy hair and make up for which I am very grateful. She and her team do an insane amount of work at the festival. I think I work at a slower pace then she does though...


DP: If you had to do it all over again what would you change?
GT: I would spend a little more time lying in the grass of the garden and I would go for a swim in the ocean. I think I would rehearse my jury presentation beforehand too.

DP: How do you and Miguel work together?
GT: It involves a lot of talking, playing and drawing, usually some cardboard and occasionally a little argument. It's very organic. Our apartment and studio are one in the same, so it's hard to separate everything. One informs the other and we usually work together on almost all aspects of our collaborations. I've even learned how to retouch photos-to the extent that we do that kind of thing. I think it takes a lot of understanding and openness. You always have to remind yourself about that because you take the most liberties with those that are closest to you.

DP: Why would it be better to be the sunshine instead of the rainbow?
GT: The jury is still out. I don't think there's a definitive conclusion. Although it's the topic of breakfast conversation almost every morning.

DP: What did you gain from this experience?
GT: I realized that some of the pieces to the puzzle I needed most had been right in front of me for some time. I also found that fashion had the power to touch others and me in a way I had forgotten. I think it's important to occasionally create something just for yourself and that stand behind 100%. Plus I met a lot of amazing people and had a few dance floor disasters.


DP: What comes next?
GT: I was hoping you could tell me.


DP: How would you define your work and in what direction would you like to take It?
GT: I would like it to exist in between the worlds of art and fashion and develop more deeply into both. I really would like to create installations to further push and contextualize the work and also prove that I can create garments people want to put on while remaining conceptually and creatively stimulating. I would like create work for people willing to take chances and against over consumption uniformity. I would very much like it to have a life of it's own.

DP: Many of the people that I interview are press virgins, are you?

GT: I've given talking-head sound bites after other peoples shows. Unfortunately, I think you're the second to do a serious interview about my own work, but you will always have the exclusive.



All photos by Miguel Villalobos
Hair Chinatsu Nobe
Make-Up Fumi
Accessories: Kristin Barron

Posted by diane pernet at 12:00 AM | Permalink


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the 'hair' out of black rubber is indeed beautifully executed !

Posted by: LEX/LEX | May 7, 2008 9:49:49 PM

Dear Graham,

first, so lovely to really meet you when i was in NY.

your work is stunning. look out rei (you know who i mean)

hope to see you in paris with DP.

keep the faith. vg

Posted by: Vincent gagliostro | May 7, 2008 8:29:12 PM

Dear G, I would love to see the raf collection that you think this collection came from, I am a huge fan of Raf's since his first collection and frankly I don't see any connection.

The masks are not copying the Medulla cover and are not
made out of hair at all, but out of black rubber. The Medulla cover is fully 2 dimensional not porous while these are all about the contrast between the porousness of the technique and the 3 dimensional aspect. Although I don't agree with your rather caustic comment I am happy that you had a reaction to my post. All the best, Diane

Posted by: DP | May 5, 2008 9:15:53 AM

Diane, how do I find you? Neither of the email addresses I have work. Please email me, I need to talk to you.

Posted by: Brian Beker | May 5, 2008 2:25:16 AM

This is simply just Raf Simons plus Bjork (the hair mask...) ...... pls show something new, or does fashion only do 'copies' ?

Posted by: Galerij | May 4, 2008 7:56:48 PM

tutto è molto bello i miei complimenti

Posted by: tore | May 4, 2008 7:44:34 PM

paint on fingers is best part.

Posted by: kim | May 4, 2008 6:43:50 AM

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