London's creative multi-tasker Tom Ryling, looks East

Celebrating its fifth birthday this year, Fashion East's Menswear Installations collaborates with Red Bull Catwalk Studio for the first time. With sweet music being made for autumn/winter 14, we caught up with each designer. First stop on the talent...

by Steve Salter
02 January 2014, 4:25pm

Francis Bacon's Study for Portrait II

Season after season, the eye catching flag of London menswear is being hoisted ever higher. Pulling hard on the rope is Lulu Kennedy's Fashion East initiative, known for nourishing carefully chosen talents, setting imaginations free and making dreams come true, Having sharpened the cutting-edge of fashion and kept London cool through thick and think, the ground breaking platform celebrates five years of its pioneering menswear installations this season and collaborates with Red Bull Catwalk Studio. The autumn/winter 14 line-up is full of promise and the creative coming together with Red Bull will make it a season to savour, supporting the hand-picked design talents of Liam Hodges, Tom Ryling, Roxanne Farahmand, Massimo Casagrande and Nicomede Talavera with made-to-measure mixtapes, providing the soundtrack for the event. Just days away from pressing play, we called Tom Ryling. Here, the London raised artist, designer, writer, art and style director talks creation, collaboration and camaraderie. 

Tom, where are you at the moment?
I'm in the pub, naturally. There's this woman screeching to all ears about her current office hook-up; we all think it will end disastrously. 

Aside from drinking, what are you up to?
I'm supposed to be doing some fashion admin and writing this short story too but my mates have turned up to massively distract me which is actually always welcome.

What's on the pub stereo?
They're playing the standard 'Best of Xmas' mixtape; we're on Mariah now, nice.

How sweet.
There's this sweet something in the air, I think it's these candles but it smells like Impulse body-spray.

To introduce yourself, please write a fake dating advert for yourself.
Dude trying to be the best version of himself seeks Joaquin Phoenix.

What's the last text message you sent?
"YES! Surfbor't x"

What's your favourite colour?
Dirty Grey Marl

When did you realise you wanted to be a menswear designer?
As a kid I hated everything I was made to wear; nowadays I see kids totally being able to choose their clothes from the endless chic stores - back in the nineties it was all very 'here, wear this Tom'. I used to try to style things up to make them cooler and a mates mum use to sew so I remember asking her to make these awesome trousers for me, which were cool as fuck. It was my first experience that you could actually design and make your ideal clothes, not just be offered whatever was on sale from some Oxford Street kids department.

What's your earliest fashion memory?
The entirety of John Waters 'Hairspray' was my go-to VHS when I was a kid and the costumes and style totally overwhelmed me.

What's your biggest design inspiration?
Chet Baker on smack on the Italian Riviera.

How did you react when you got the call from Fashion East?
I've worked with Fashion East a few times and whenever their name flashes on my phone I'm always thrilled and delighted to have a natter and talk FASHION. They're the absolute best.

What was the initial catalyst for autumn/winter 14?
I had this memory of being on top of this Irish mountain when I was a teenager and the wind being so ferocious it nearly pulled me from the peak into the valley below. That visual and that feeling of proper shock in this beautiful environment has been bubbling in my head the past couple of months and started a bit of a fashion exploration...

Describe your mood board.
It is more often than not a mood stack. Lots of old photos and photocopies of memories and icons and pages and passages from books; faces I love - Chet, Winona, Joaquin obvs. Textiles and objects I pick up along the way; things off off the street - I just found this wicked Aluminium-topped table from some alleyway that influenced me a bit; others fabrics from weird haberdasheries and markets around the country.

How are you working with the Red Bull catwalk studio? What can you tell us about the soundtrack?
I've worked with the fantastic musician Rudi Zygadlo, whose beats and style properly spoke to me. We worked on our soundtrack from pieces from his amazing archive, looking through all these fantastic tracks and sounds - there's this baroque quality to his music that I totally dug and it's always thrilling collaborating with new artists. It's great that the Red Bull catwalk studio have been able to put us together.

Did you enjoy thinking about the collection in a more holistic, multi-sensory way?
It's sorta how I work anyway, there's usually a beat or a song in my head when I work and I always think about the 'world' these garments inhabit but it's cool to make these ideas an actual reality for people to see, not just in my head!

Finally, what excites you about the future of London menswear?
The fact that almost all the menswear designers here in London know each other and support each other, there's a strong sense of community and I think the world can see that and responds to it.



Text Steve Salter

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