Christopher Shannon grew up in Liverpool and spent his childhood enthralled by Smash Hits, his big brother's love of skateboarding and his Mum's mates tales of 80s Manchester clubbing. Combine that with his awe of stylist and i-D stalwart Judy Blame and he was pretty much destined to produce a mash-up of all the aforementioned. Studying for his MA at the legendary Central St Martins, going on to present as a part of MAN and collaborating with Reebok and Topman among others, it was no surprise that he was announced as the first designer to win the BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund, last night. Launched in September 2013 and supported by Vertu the fund will provide Christopher with £150,000 and access to high level business mentoring and professional business services. To celebrate we pick out 10 questions we've asked him in i-D since he graduated in 2008. Look how far he's come since 2009's The Manhood Issue...
1. What did you do after the spring/summer 09 show? [The Manhood Issue, No. 296, February 09]
"Necked a bottle of champers, had a quick shower then went to the MAN/Colette party with Natascha Stolle and Louise Markey. I stayed about an hour and fell asleep in a chair."
2. What’s been the biggest influence on your approach to design so far? [The 300th Issue, No. 300, June/July 09]
"I don’t think I could name one singular thing, but learning to be honest about where you are coming from and almost not trying too hard, I think it really shows when people are TRYING to be fashion designers. The people who inspire me are usually ones who have a very natural relationship with what they do, the two that spring to mind are Judy Blame and Julie Verhoeven, there is something very genuine about their work and it never tries. In fact most of the things adorning my walls are by those two."
3. Where do you see yourself in five years time? [The 300th Issue, No. 300, June/July 09]
"I stopped making plans a while back as I think its a total waste of time. I really like the work I’m doing at the minute, as much as the shows are fun I’m more much interested in being a designer than a name, as long as the work that comes in is interesting I’m just as happy to work creatively within a house as I am to continue doing this. All that said it would be really great to show in London for a while and also in Paris."
4. Do you think the contemporary financial climate makes your job harder? [The 300th Issue, No. 300, June/July 09]
"I’ve only ever done this job in this climate; I graduated a year ago so I don’t know any different. Business is good so I can't complain, plus I’m really exhausted by all the talking about it. It makes no difference, everybody has still got to crack on and GET THINGS DONE!"
5. How do you feel about the pairing of celebrity and design? [The 300th Issue, No. 300, June/July 09]
"Westwood and Pamela Anderson - that’s fabulous. If it was in the realms of what I was interested in I might do the same…"
6. Who was your teen idol? [The F.U.N. Issue, No. 301, Summer 09]
“I’d been a bit obsessive about Judy Blame from when I first saw Neneh Cherry. All the bands he worked with really charted my change into teenhood - Bjork, Shakespeare’s Sister, Massive Attack... All that imagery has totally stood the test of time. I think I always will find Judy totally inspiring.”
7. What was it like studying for your MA at St Martins? [The F.U.N. Issue, No. 301, Summer 09]
“I had to go back questioning where my aesthetic comes from. And it comes from all those things above - loving music imagery but not wanting to be a musician, following my brother’s skater mates around and loving all those labels and graphics, but being a shit skater myself. Fashion gives space to incorporate all those things.”
8. What were the 90s club nights, songs and experiences that left the greatest impression on you? [Online, November 13]
"I only really caught the end of it all, I was 15 when I went to the last FLESH at the Hacienda, there wasn't a great mood to be honest, maybe I was too young. I think by then people had really moved on. Liverpool had its own mood that was a bit rougher and fun, Manchester took itself a bit more seriously and was a bit more posey and grown up. I mostly remember getting the coach back and forth, the station in Manchester was right next to the Paradise Factory which I always found a bit poncey. My favourite was a club called Danceteria, which was open from midnight on Saturday night until about 11pm Sunday night, it was a converted pub and had the best music. I loved it in there and would be gutted if we couldn't get in, all the drama of fake IDs, begging and favours. It was so sweaty you would take a few changes of clothes and every few hours go out to the car park and change, the steam billowing off you in the cold Manc air. Then go back in and reveal a new look, ridiculous!"
9. What was one of your favourite looks from your autumn/winter 14 collection? [Online, January 14]
"I like the blonde boy in the backless top and trousers. I thought that was a bit more raw sex and I really liked it when I saw it at the end. Once you see everything together, you can play with the rest of it a bit more."
10. What is teamwork in fashion? [The Creative Collaborators Issue, No. 327, Fall 13]
“Leaving your ego at the door is a good thing. Shoots and shows are such odd environments, and can be so tense. Keeping your focus and not losing your sense of humour is important. I can’t stand anything where people feel excluded, like whispering on set. I have a fantastic team, and I only work with people I can have a laugh with, but who also are really committed. I’m sure I can be a nightmare sometimes, but everyone understands that we all care about the work, and that’s what matters. Everyone is involved in making the work, not just me. I learnt so much from assisting people before I had my own label. You have to have a good relationship with your team, otherwise it starts to show in the work. Also it makes going to work much more pleasurable!”
And one more for good measure, here's what Christopher Shannon asked his mentor, Lulu Kennedy in The Creative Collaborators Issue, No. 327, Fall 13:
Would you rather have a lifetime supply of tequila or a new jeep?
"Deffo a new pimped-out jeep, with air-con and a massive hand-built sound system. I’m gonna open a tequila distillery when I retire, so don’t worry, there will be plenty for us lot to drink."