Spiritual Nourishment with Corinna Springer
Corinna Springer is the alpha-class fashion PR, neural hacker and incubator to some of the world’s it-est avant-garde brands. Her recent book, “An Intuitive Study of Reality,” mines eccentric terrains and hacks straight through your brain waves...
A PR pro who has worked with oodles of avant-guardians (A.F. Vandevorst, Haider Ackermann, Rad Hourani, KAIMIN, Robert Geller etc.) and avid philosophy buff with an interest in what eggheads call 'theory of mind', she's spent the last few years stewing over some of the knottiest quandaries around: the nature of meaning, the substance of minds, the nature of art and whether free will is the real deal. Her latest book, "An Intuitive Study of Reality", is a précis of her ruminations on those very themes, distilled into 22 accessible and mostly bite-sized reads, and all expressed within a context of art, fashion and eye-opening aesthetics. i-D popped by Nouveau-PR's midtown office and fired off a few questions Corinna's way.
What's your background?
I studied art and literature (with stints at The Sorbonne) in my younger days and got my start in PR at TOTEM in Paris.
What's the most challenging aspect of the fashion PR biz today?
I feel like the blood sport of fashion is playing out by way of corporate interests, hyper-aggressive advertisers and fast fashion megaliths. Many of these entities eclipse the smaller players, avant-guardians and humble visionaries who are the true shapers of fashion. The space teems with so many talented players that differentiation is a huge challenge. But that's part of the evolutionary nature of the industry, the zeitgeist and the whole bumptious business of fashion PR and brand building.
What kind of fashion inspires you and what do you look for?
I admire designers like Raf Simons, Veronique Branquinho, A.F. Vandevorst, Helmut Lang (the man). Their work has made an indelible impact on my thinking and they constantly push boundaries. They are at once alchemical, philosophical, a touch mad and champions of their craft.
How did you first get interested in metaphysics?
I'd been interested in art and philosophy from a young age. As a kid I was a bit of a loner and spent time by myself reading books, fashion magazines and thinking critically about art and anthropology (my Mum introduced me to philosophy texts as a kid). I studied literature and ended up doing my graduate thesis on James Turrell. Then I went into PR and it has been a laboratory for thinking about all the rich dualisms like mind-body, abstract-representational, mystical-sceptical, political-apolitical, reason-emotion, etc.
What do you think about all the New Age self-help literature out there today?
I think it can be too abstract and mystical. But our lives our so strewn with stressors and moral dilemmas that as a result there is an insatiable demand for cult-y/ new age/ self-help manifestos. My thinking and writing is more logic-based and grounded in experience. But I do think that injecting a bit of Bohemianism into the bloodstream of capitalism can be a good thing. Just witness the rise of companies like Google, Virgin, Ben & Jerry's and Apple, whose founders have incorporated loftier ethics into their corporate ethoi.
Are you political? What do you think about culture and politics today?
Yeah, but I'm not an extremist. I just worry about institutional corruption, conniving corporate lobbyists, the erosion of democracy and threats to a clean environment. I appreciate that designers and artists like Vivienne Westwood (who is vocal about environmental degradation) and Ai Wei Wei (who rails against conformity and authoritarianism) are getting more media attention lately.
Who's your favorite artist?
James Turrell. He once said, "light is not the bearer of revelation - it is the revelation." I love Turrell because he's the artist who projects moonbeams and catches starlight. His art and optics are otherworldly and optimistic and I'm deeply inspired by his oeuvre and his approach to the study of perception.
Who are some of your role models?
Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester, An Vandevorst, Filip Arikcx, Raf Simons and so many friends, family and colleagues. Specifically, Mandi Lennard is heroic to me for successfully nurturing and guiding her protégés; Julie Gilhart for helping to raise awareness and making sustainability and eco themes more credible in fashion; Bruno Pieters for creating HONEST BY, which is one of the most ethical, transparent and upright labels out there! Kuki de Salvertes, a long-time mentor, was the first to give me my chance in the industry; Vikram and Imran at BOF have been inspirational! And Cathy Horyn has been a constant beacon to me too.
Text Cody Ross