coco gordon moore and mademe's erin magee on reviving x-girl's roots
As we present the premiere of MadeMe and X-girl's collaboration video — directed by Ricky Saiz and Julian Klincewicz — we catch up with its star, Coco Gordon Moore, and MadeMe's founder Erin Magee to learn more about bringing the by-girls-for-girls...
Photography Ricky Saiz
Coco Gordon Moore has a lot of X-girl shirts. "Too many, in fact, but they are my favorite pieces of clothing," she tells me over email. Her enviable collection is unsurprising: as the only child of Kim Gordon — co-founder of both the cult 90s clothing brand and pioneering no-wave band Sonic Youth — Gordon Moore stood to inherit a serious X-girl treasure trove (even if she occasionally had to battle for it). "I remember fighting over one of the jackets with a couple of my cousins; it was a winter one with 'x-girl prep' on the front and lined with red faux fur," she says. But as the star of X-girl's newest collaboration — created with its spiritual offspring, Erin Magee's female-first streetwear line MadeMe — Gordon Moore had her pick of red puffa jackets, rainbow-striped sweaters, and canvas overall dresses. She models them all the collaboration's lookbook images and accompanying VHS-style video, which makes its premiere on i-D today.
A primer: Gordon and stylist Daisy von Furth co-founded X-girl back in 1993, before selling it to B's International in 1998. Since then, the brand has expanded throughout Japan, where it presently operates 32 standalone stores. Though the original duo only operated the line for five years, their blend of Godard-girl and skate rat style — crystallized in X-girl's logo tees, A-line minidresses, and those covetable faux-fur jackets — made early fans of Sofia Coppola, Chloë Sevigny (their first fit model), and a young Magee. "It was the first clothing company I remember that was for girls, by girls and directed towards women in a sexless kind of way," says Magee. "They weren't selling sexy-cute clothes, they were selling interests, ideas, culture, and perspective of some really rad chicks!"
X-girl's empowering ethos and legacy inspired Magee to launch MadeMe in 2007 (which she runs in addition to working her day job as Supreme's director of Product and Development). We first learned of the X-girl collaboration last November, when we unveiled MadeMe's spring/summer 16 zine, a collection of Petra Collins' dreamy dispatches from a Chinatown sleepover. Now, after a year of anticipation, Magee has released the full collection online, accompanied by a lookbook that harkens back to X-girl's riot-grrrl-inflected roots. Its images were photographed by Ricky Saiz, who also directed a short video with Julian Klincewicz. "Ricky has a real understanding of those references, and Julian is talented in a young, unfiltered way. We wanted it to feel like it was actually made in 1994," says Magee.
Mission accomplished. Like the lookbook, Saiz's video also draws inspiration from X-girl's early-90s golden age — specifically, the brand's 1995 Godard-esque film directed by Phil Morrison and starring a young Sevigny. Though it also recalls grainy Sonic Youth videos of the same era, the voice speaking in this video isn't Gordon's; Gordon Moore wrote her own text and performed its accompanying voiceover. We caught up with Magee and Gordon Moore to learn more about Coco's closet and why the new collaboration marks a major cross-generational moment for cool girls of all ages.
Erin, what were your guiding influences in designing this collection? Did you dig into the X-girl archive at all?
Erin Magee: I wanted MadeMe to bring X-girl back to its original look; it was really important for me to pay homage to the origins in an authentic way. X-girl sent me some early lookbooks and shoots from the early 90s. Also I had a lot of my own samples, trolled eBay and etsy, looked at old DUNE magazines, put my 90s thinking cap on, and got to work!
Coco, can you tell me more about your X-girl pieces? Have you worn them all your life, or was there a certain point when you became interested?
Coco Gordon Moore: I didn't really start wearing them until I was 15 or 16, though I'm sure my mom put them on me when I was younger. Some of my favorites were the "x-girl tennis" or "x-girl prep." I was also in love with the jeans, but I only had one pair and they barely fit me now. I love the classics, though. Seeing old photos from the 90s of my mom, Daisy von Furth, Sofia Coppola, and Chloë Sevigny wearing the clothes was a huge influence on my fashion style; I wanted to dress just like them.
Erin, you've been making amazing collaborations happen for years. How did you bring this one to life?
EM: My friend Zachary Ching introduced me to the Japanese team at X-girl. I reached out to them, and the rest is history!
Coco, how did you get involved?
CGM: I believe Erin emailed me asking to be part of the collab, [and] I immediately wanted to do it. I was pretty excited because I always idolized the look of X-girl and the girls who modeled the clothes. I was especially excited to hear that Erin wanted to bring back that 90s aesthetic to the line.
Let's talk more about the visuals. Erin, how did you, Ricky, and Julian come together on the images and the video? What was Coco like as a model and collaborator?
EM: About a year ago I mentioned to Ricky I was working with X-girl, and he said, "I want to shoot the photos!" So, it's been a year in the making and he's perfect for the job, since he completely understands all the references. I couldn't say more amazing things about Coco. I work with a lot of young girls her age, and she's been the most professional to date. Very hard working, wise beyond her years, and she obviously just "gets it"!
Coco, can you tell me a little about your experiences working with Ricky?
CGM: The shoot was fun, very loose, definitely inspired by some old X-girl campaigns, [and] had a bit of a 70s vibe, trying to looking despondent in a way. I remember talking to Erin and Ricky about how it should be unsexy, which would make it sexy.
What are some of the ideas you wanted to communicate in the text and voiceover?
CGM: The text came from a catalogue for a show I had in August at Rox Tox Art Gallery, [and was based on] my notes in art history classes and notes for new paintings or project ideas. I randomized them so they ended up acting as poems. I felt the voice over created an abstracted narrative for the video, a story for the girl in the video.
The voiceover reminded me a bit of some of the spoken elements your mom did in Sonic Youth songs like "Tunic" or "Teen Age Riot." Were you in any way engaging with that?
CGM: Though I wasn't thinking about those songs when I did the voiceover, I think the way she speaks in her music is forever engrained in me, so it's very possible for that to come out. I did think about Chloë's voice and my mom's voice in the X-girl video directed by Phil Morrison. Though I must say I really don't like the sound of my own voice, haha, so it's a little hard for me to listen to.
Kim hasn't been involved with X-girl for a while, but she's in the mix for this project. Erin, what did she bring to this collaboration?
EM: She brought her blessing to the collaboration, and that's all I could have asked for. She's one of my idols for many reasons and to have her approval was really cool.
MadeMe works with many fantastic references and ideas from the past — 70s punk plaids, Hole babydoll dresses — but interpreted for a new generation. What do you hope today's young women take from this collaboration?
EM: This is a major full-circle girl power moment! It's a reference period and a time that needed to be discussed again. I wanted MadeMe to bring X-girl to light again so this younger generation of "cool-girl" can learn about it! Kim and Daisy started something really cool over 20 years ago — something so special that it's still going, something that's still relevant. Now Coco is representing that same girl they sold to in the early 90s.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Ricky Saiz, courtesy MadeMe