astrid andersen and a$ap ferg discuss collaborating for spring/summer 16
From Run DMC and their shoelace-less Superstars, to A$AP Rocky worshipping at the alter of Rick Owens and Hov hearting Margiela, hip hop and fashion have long coexisted in an (almost) perfect harmony. So, to 2016, and Astrid Anderson x A$AP Ferg. With Ferg previously modelling for Anderson's Topman collection in 2014, the pair recently created the soundtrack and a short film to accompany Anderson's new collection showing this morning at London Collections: Men. Individual, influential and original are ideals that both the Harlem MC and the Danish designer share, and perhaps the reason their creative collaborations are so successful. We listened in on Astrid and Ferg as they conversed about building a movement that resounds beyond the norm….
How did you two first meet?
A$AP Ferg: I have to admit that at first, Astrid, you was like a myth to me. For months I was like 'When am I going to meet this woman'? I thought she was like this mythical older woman and then I saw pictures of her with Rocky on Instagram. I was like 'Oh shit, she's young!'
Astrid: You thought I was older? Like a lady? A madam?
Ferg: I first saw the line she had at FourTwoFour in LA and then I saw the lookbook she did with my boy Ian Connor and Left Brain from Odd Future. That was dope because you brought them two together and you didn't even know that, like, we weren't messing with Odd Future at the time. Well not me, I didn't care, but some of the homies wasn't messing with them. That's neither here nor there really, but you [Astrid] waved the white flag when you did that cause they did the shoot together.
Astrid: I didn't know anything about that situation. We just kind of brainstormed about what we wanted. It's the ultimate thing that you can create something that like so much that it can wipe out those kinds of situations.
Ferg: It was so dope. We were both the biggest youth groups in hip hop, I guess, but that finally got us together and it just so happened to be through her platform.
I'm sure you both have brands and artists that want to work with you - I assume you turn a lot of it down. What is it about each other that you like?
Ferg: I was a fan from when I first saw Astrid's work. I seen the jersey stuff with the logo on it and I seen pictures of her showroom and how she had the basketball run with the long net. Then I seen her mink work, which is when I really saw a kind of mink that I'd never seen - she added the leather and the different materials, and I was like, 'Damn this looks crazy'. It looked somehow different and it reminded me of myself because I'm that same sort of artist. I'll take an aesthetic and make it exaggerated to a point where it becomes this thing in my world now. She took basketball and sport wear and made it high fashion. She put her own innovative twist on it. That's how I look at myself and try to create; take something so simple that everybody looks at everyday and exaggerate it. Twist it and manipulate it to make it something else but something's that's distinctly yours. I seen that in her work. And to see that this girl from Copenhagen is doing this stuff is crazy.
Astrid: This old lady! That's why for me it's natural to have this connection. It's difficult to explain it because I'm a fan first as well. But for me it's that confidence with Ferg. You see someone who's really created a character that stands out amongst everybody as very confident and super charismatic. I can really see it as something bigger than the music because it's so confident and that's what inspires my work.
Ferg: She's so serious and stressed most the time cause she wants her pieces to come out exact. It's not like she's doing it for the money…she's about quality over quantity. She doesn't whore her brand out and that's what I respect the most about Astrid. That's what I want to stand behind because I went to art and design high school; I'm a designer myself. So for me to just back somebody's complete vision? I have a problem wearing people's logos cause I'm a creator myself. So for me to wear a logo, as a badge of honor, is a huge thing for me. I support Ralph Lauren, that's my thing. I support Astrid.
You're both hip hop heads. What was the first track that got you into hip hop?
Ferg: I can remember Mary J Blige, What's The 411 album with Reminisce and My Love. My mother used to play it all the time.
Astrid: I would say it was the Missy era and the Nas era for me - Illmatic!
Were you wary of incorporating elements of hip hop into a clothing line in case it was perceived as 'a hip hop line'? People can be very snobby about that…
Astrid: No. I don't think it's hard for it to be what you want it to be, but I think it's hard when people want to cliché it into that. You could say it about their kind of music as well. My customers, and Ferg's fans are so savvy…. they see straight through those kinds of things.
Ferg: It's the sell out syndrome and people can immediately tell when you're doing it for the money. I do songs with people that I really want to do songs with, or like my friends, people I could call right now. Schoolboy Q, Rocky, Big Sean, French Montana, Chris Brown…these are all people that I really hang out with and respect genuinely as people. We've had the watered down stuff; we just want to make the potent art. Why can't great art be mainstream? Why don't all the potent artists and fashion designers, whatever medium you work with, come together as one. 'Ey, you take my pictures, 'ey you design my album covers, 'ey you dress me in your clothes'. Lets create a community of potent artists and all come up together. Let's not water ourselves down just because this corporation's got trillions of dollars. Those people sitting in those offices don't relate to our culture, or know where we came from, they don't even understand it. I would rather work and build it slow. So you make millions of dollars? That's hollow. What do you stand for? I want it to be a lifestyle, I want people to believe in the art, to live by it - people are just selling their brands and making trillions of dollars, it's just hollow. You'd look back and be like, What did I do for the world? At least you could say you provided great art. If we just vanished, we could at least say we gave people the best art and we didn't sell ourselves short. That's all I care about.
Astrid: That feeling of growing something and understanding what it actually takes to grow something, and appreciating that as well. You meet so many people who want everything to happen now, and they want to be five steps ahead. It always makes me stressed and I feel like, 'Why do you want to be over there, when actually it's here'.
Ferg: The energy is over here. The energy is between us. We are the cool. Like you're going to get a billion dollars and hang out with them peoples? That's not cool!
Astrid: They are going to be so bored.
Ferg: Them people can't even buy cool! I mean eventually everybody needs money to support themselves and put themselves through school and help families out and stuff like that, and that stuff will come. But at the end of the day I'm really after great art. Art makes the world a better place to live in. Like, somebody made the jean, somebody made the shirt - but Astrid is making the better jean and the better shirt.
So you've worked together on the presentation of Astrid's next collection. Is Ferg walking in the collection?
Astrid: No, we are doing to a film, which for me is a lot more interesting because we get to create a vision together, we get to create a universe that is beyond the catwalk. For me, the catwalk is a presentation that's nice for us to do. But it's not about who's there for those five minutes of that one show; what comes out of this is another art form that can last and I can have that forever. It's thanks to Red Bull Catwalk Studios who gave me the freedom to create this work of art with Ferg, because this will live beyond a five minute show attended by a few hundred people.
What's the inspiration around the track and the short film you've created for Astrid's show?
Ferg: I designed the song to go with the treatment that she wrote. I would say like Iron Fist? Kind of like Kill Bill…
Astrid: Like Big Trouble in Little China, this kind of magical vibe.
Ferg: I scored the music. We built the music around the treatment, we looked at a lot of old Chinese films for inspiration.
So like a Wu-Tang 36 Chambers vibe?
Ferg: No, no…it's Astrid-ish/A$AP-ish vibe!
Astrid: I went to LA for 48 hours and we went through a bunch of old songs and new songs. For me, it's about creating a super power, like when I watch Big Trouble in Little China again or Missy Elliott's videos you see this whole universe has been created for people to watch and be inspired by. This is what I really wanted to do because there are a lot of videos you can relate to when you watch them, but then you forget about them. I really wanted to create a universe that people remember. In ten years, I want some school kid to be like, 'Ah remember that sick Astrid video' and referencing it as a mood that will stay beyond today.
Ferg: I based my whole career off Missy's The Rain. Just watching that video, the colors and Hype Williams. Belly - that's the theme of my life. That's the aesthetic to my whole life. When I met up with Missy I told her 'It's because of you that I exist'. That's what we want to do; we want to create that for the next generation.
Check Ferg and Astrid's Red Bull Catwalk Studios film here
Text Hattie Collins
Photography Stephanie Sian Smith