dream, baby, dream! ruiz stephinson turn fashion into art
Ruiz Stephinson are the multi-media mixing artist/design duo based in Paris, whose new capsule collection for Each x Other is available now. i-D quizzed the duo on their new work, and how you get by as young creatives and flâneurs in a pragmatic world.
Photography Alessandra D’Urso
In a season obsessed with the marriage between fashion and art, Ruiz Stephinson are hitting the nail on the head with their all-inclusive, spontaneously genre-less, and fantastical universe rooted in dreaminess, compassion, and crazy fun. Coralie Ruiz grew up in the French countryside, studied art, and moved to London in 2009 where she met Anthony Stephinson. Born in County Durham, Anthony had come to London in 2000 to study at Byam Shaw School of Art at CSM, and was working as a buyer and a stylist (and i-D contributor). The two became a couple, threw themselves into various art projects together, and moved to Paris in 2012 where Ruiz Stephinson became a reality. They have since travelled Europe with their large-scale art installations and launched a jewellery collection, a radio show, and a never-ending array of mind-blowing initiatives that seem to know no bounds.
Why do you think people like your work?
Anthony Stephinson: It's really important for us that people are included in the work. We use common technologies and invite people to interact with them. We don't know if people like it, but hopefully they feel part of it.
Your spring/summer 14 capsule collection for Each x Other is out now. How did you transform your art into fashion?
AS: I knew Robert Montgomery from London who had collaborated as an artist with the brand, and had seen them doing some really great things, then met Jenny Mannerheim and Ilan Delouis, the two founders, when we moved to Paris, and they really liked the sentiment of our work.
Coralie Ruiz: They loved the words in one of our works, WE ARE ALL ONE, as it connected with the ideology behind the brand, as a creative community.
AS: So we started with the most universal product, a t-shirt. We wanted it to take the circular form of the piece, so we used the Hells Angel patching.
In the new collection you also use the slogan 'Dream Baby Dream'. Are you dreamers or hopeful realists?
CR: We are huge dreamers!
AS: The day we met we stayed up all night discussing the colours of the clouds until dawn…
Messages of love and fellowship aren't always considered 'cool', especially not in fashion. Did you deliberately want to bring some anti-cynicism into fashion?
CR: I don't like to be cool and I don't give a shit about fashion.
Who do you admire in the world that's made you think like this?
AS: David Bowie.
Are you provocateurs?
AS: In the sense that we want people to react and interact with our work, I guess yeah.
Apart from the slogans - which are obviously literal - how did you express these themes in the Each x Other collection?
AS: I've worked in and around fashion for the last ten years, so for me it was really fun to tick one of the final boxes and be a designer. We liked the idea of trying to work hippy and rock into one capsule collection - hence the fringing, and the Hells Angels. It was a fun exercise to bring the two opposing camps together.
You've done huge art installations in the past, like carousels and films from Disneyland. What are you working on next, outside of fashion?
AS: We have a studio residency at Le Passage, which is part of Le Point Éphémère in Belleville in Paris, and we are exploring this idea of being submerged under the flood of digital information, using common technologies, open source code and online programs. The first work that's come out of it is a web based project called #SUBMERGEVILLAGE. It's an online underwater village, with a bank, art centre, and nightclub…
CR: People can walk around under water and discover things in the gif houses. We invite artists to exhibit in the village, and right now we have Thomas Cap de Ville at the art centre, and Charlie Le Mindu is DJing at the club.
What's the project you're doing on the island of Saint Barths?
AS: It's amazing! Our work has revolved around the idea of islands since the beginning, and we still make imaginary islands to map our work to this day as a way to categorise it. So to have the work on a small island is perfect! The piece is called CHAOS, and is a large wooden protest sign with the words FREE FOR ALL cut into it. It's showing all summer in a group show at Eden Rock Gallery.
You did your new jewellery collection under your own brand name. How did that come about?
CR: Our friend Rafael Jimenez, who has Plan8 Showrooms in Paris, wanted to put some of our work in his showroom last season, and he used a piece called SPACE TOURISM TRASH which is a huge digital image of popcorn floating through space. He asked us this season if we would like to make a product for the showroom, and we loved the idea of physically extracting the popcorn, and turning it into jewellery.
What does gilded popcorn represent to you?
CR: We use the figure of the popcorn in a recurrent way in our work to symbolise transformation. The jewellery collection is called Metamorphosis and uses the idea of alchemy, and the transmogrification of base metal to gold.
Is it true that Kenzo Takada was your first costumer?
AS: I was backstage at the Dries Van Noten show last season, wearing one of our golden popcorn necklaces out for the first time, and this amazing lady, Ingmari Lamy, came towards me, drawn in by it. She took a hold of it and said she wanted it immediately for her friend's birthday! It turned out that her friend was Kenzo Takada, whom she was muse to in the 70s.
What is the Maison et Objet project you're doing?
CR: Maison et Objet is one of the biggest international salons for design and tendencies, and we've been chosen as upcoming young artists and given carte blanche to show our work. We will show a new project connected to the idea of digital submersion, using calligraphic forms and symbols developed from computer glitches, to talk about emotional responses.
AS: We've invented new smileys.
You've got so many projects going the term 'multi-artists' almost fails to cover you. Do you think this is what it means to be an artist in the 21st century?
AS: I think right now, more than ever, it's important to adapt. It's a survival tactic.
CR: I don't think it's more relevant now than before. There is a long history of artists working as architects, designers, writers, poets, and I think that variety is really exciting and always an adventure.
Let's go through some of it: Coralie, you've got a radio show with Charlie le Mindu?
CR: Charlie and I have known each other for over ten years, and we have a really similar sense of humour so we made a radio show called LES LOLS, LOTS OF LOVE on Radio Marais, which is really stupid, and if you listen to it you can hear us laughing with each other all the time! Also, the music is really good.
Anthony, you're also both a stylist and a writer.
AS: Since we came to Paris, I've been doing fashion consulting, and writing show reports for Hint, but not really doing much in the way of styling. But I recently started working with a 16-year-old French girl called Rori, who is obsessed with Manga, and makes ultra infectious French J-Pop! Her first single comes out really soon.
What's your advice to people, who dream about doing what you do?
AS: We believe in magic.
CR: The world will be a better place if everybody follows their dreams.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Alessandra D'Urso