how the golden age of drum 'n' bass inspires designer caitlin price
The Fashion East designer discusses how the musical subculture influences her designs.
"It's about losing yourself with your mates. I love that," says Caitlin Price, one of London's hottest young fashion designers. Her collections are a subversive play on femininity, both simultaneously tough and soft. For her spring/summer 16 collection, Caitlin was inspired by the scene and sounds of the golden age of 90s drum and bass. Harking back to the days of subcultural hedonism, the designs were Caitlin's ode to her own adventures of raving. Who doesn't love a girl who climbs in through her bedroom window after a good night of dancing? After all, clothes are nothing if they aren't worn with attitude. Alongside her collection, Caitlin worked with video director Benjamin Bowe-Carter to create visuals of her girl gang and those wondrous nights of good old drum 'n' bass raving. i-D sat down with her to discuss fashion, music, and feminism.
How did the drum and bass influences come about for this season?
When I was growing up and getting into music, garage and drum 'n' bass was all I listened to. When I was older I started going to drum 'n' bass nights with my mate Hollie. We never even used to drink because the drinks were too expensive and we had school the next day. We just used to go rave then make it home in time to climb through the window and get changed for school. I started listening to some old Micky Finn, Shabba and Skibbadee and DJ Hype sets on Mixcloud this summer and thought it would be a good starting point for spring/summer 16.
What do you think makes drum 'n' bass so powerful a movement?
That it's a culture, it isn't just a type of music. D'n'B nights were born in the UK and are the happiest nights to go to with one of the best atmospheres going; everyone is welcome. Music has an ability to do that, to bring people together, and people properly dance at these nights, like really go for it. It's not about posing, it's about losing yourself with your mates. I love that.
Do you think drum 'n' bass has changed over the years?
The sound has changed definitely, to me most new stuff sounds flat and overproduced. The rougher, tiny darker sounds are still the best. While garage nights died out then got resurrected in a nostalgic way along with the clothes and the shoes, I think drum 'n' bass nights have pretty much stayed the same in that you only really go for the music to dance and to be in that atmosphere.
Is drum 'n' bass welcoming to the idea of 'girlishness'?
It's usually a male dominated environment and you don't go to a drum 'n' bass rave unless you are prepared for that and comfortable with that. But it's not an aggressive environment, my experience of it has always been positive. For the projection visuals it was really hard to find footage of girls at drum and bass raves let alone groups of girls.
A lot of the girls in the footage are dancers and this is part of the culture at raves, girls on stage dancing. While this footage might be challenging or uncomfortable for some people, the sexuality of women and how they choose to take ownership of that is something I explore in my work. It's something I aim to give an honest response to and make sense of.
How important is music to your vision and aesthetic?
So important! For the last two shows I have had the soundtrack ideas before the clothes. The same seems to be applying to fall/winter 16. The music helps me to set the tone and I can keep going back to it, thinking about the girl, where she's going and what she's into. I reference a huge range of elements in my work; historical detailing, couture techniques and fabrications, sportswear, clubwear, eveningwear. The music helps to set a tone and pull it all together. The last two soundtracks have been personal to me, for next season it's going to be less nostalgic, a different mood completely.
What's most important for you when designing?
My work is very much centered around the personality of the girls I design for. I am always inspired by the confidence of girls and the very British ritual of dressing up to go out. It isn't about dressing for men for their approval, it's for women who dress for themselves. The Caitlin Price girl knows that with the right hair and make-up a baggy tracksuit can feel just as hot as a cut away dress that shows off her hip bones.
Your references are so rich in both fashion and music cultures of past and present, what do you think are the biggest challenges they both face today?
Not being able to make money despite having heavy press coverage and exposure. Being threatened by bigger corporations who can rip off and distribute en masse in half the time.
What are your biggest influences outside of fashion and music?
My friends, street photography, dress history, film.
What are the drum and bass classics you couldn't live without?
Bad Company, The Nine
Origin Unknown, Valley of The Shadows
DJ Zinc, Super Sharp Shooters
Omni Trio, Renegade Snares
Adam F, Metropolis
Alex Reece, Pulp Fiction
High Contrast, If We Eve
Text Bojana Kozarevic
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans