Bobby Abley, Alan Taylor and Craig Green combine to form the triptych of talent that is MAN. With the autumn/winter 14 show just a few days of final touches away, we went to each of the designers at their busy East London studios and had a poke around. Join us as we take a turn into Toontown with Bobby Abley.
From exploring far-flung galaxies to living in a fairytale, anything is possible if you believe in Bobby Abley. Having arrived in a giant spaceship for his autumn/winter 13 debut, the dashing Disney daydreamer went on to deliver a Never Neverland of crowns, teddies and Tweety tattoo transfers for his first outing with MAN last season and for today's sophomore showcase, the birthday boy promises to take a darker turn into Toontown. Forever frolicking in the fields of fantasy, Bobby is the Peter Pan of London menswear, so take his hand and float away. Revel in his innocence, peer through his kaleidoscope of kitsch, and get animated.
"My fall man is like Mickey Mouse in a haunted mansion, very cartoon chic."
How did you dress when you were a little boy?
My mum has great taste, so I always looked pretty cool and colourful. My nan used to make us a lot of clothes too.
What's your favourite colour?
Right now it's grey.
What inspires you?
Disney, but sometimes it's funny to overhear people's conversation too, even if you don't fully understand what they’re talking about. If it's interesting or funny, I’ll make a note of it.
What made you fall in love with the world of Disney?
I think it's that feeling of being kind of removed from reality: talking animals and little blue birds as friends. Imagine if that was real. It is real in your world. Disney really planted that seed of magic in my head. I used to think, “When I grow up I wanna be a kid.” I refer to that age when we feel invincible and everything is possible.
Your designs are like armour.
We all had a favourite toy, an amulet that seemed to protect us against the world. It’s bit like the cartoon tattoos I have. Maybe I'm a little scared of the grown-up world and seek an alternative existence. Adult life is boring, isn't it?
It is. Tell us about favourite tattoos.
My LA tattoo and my Teddy Bear logo. They’re upside down to everyone else, but they both face me, and they [represent] two really important moments in my life. Also, my Ariel tattoo, she's a babe.
What happened in your first meeting with Lulu Kennedy?
I fell in love with her.
Describe your autumn/winter 14 collection?
It's a little bit darker than last season. I did a 180 to the Prince Charming theme and looked at classic monsters like dracular and ghosts.
Describe your mood board.
It has a dark colour palette mixed with some animated gore. My fall man is like Mickey Mouse in a haunted mansion, very cartoon chic.
What's been on the studio speakers?
I've had M.I.A on repeat.
How are you feeling about today's MAM show?
I'm feeling a bit nervous but mostly excited because I love the collection, but you have to love what your gonna put out there or what's the point? Also, it's my birthday so I'm looking forward to a drink right after.