“When I was at Central Saint Martins, I started out wanting to concentrate on theatre design and making fantasy costumes”, begins Jack Irving, a London based designer with a flair for the unconventional. “This evolved into a deeper exploration into the blurred boundaries between costume and fashion, which in turn evolved into my current aesthetic of wearable art. Which I see as a melding together of costume, fashion and set design”.
Whilst not traditionally wearable, Irving has created something truly visual. He recently debuted at London Fashion Week with a showcase alongside On|Off. The designs [pictured] ooze vibrance and a feverish spectacle. Even his website is a cosmic-inspired work of art; “My work reflects who I am as a creative”, he continues, “and that person is someone who is obsessed with fantasy and making day-to-day life theatrical. I want to take every day objects and juxtapose, and exaggerate, them into something eccentric”.
Teenage dreams have been realised and a “more is more” vibe is persistent. Complimentary in colour, and at times demanding, Irving has used a selective colour palette and a love for the extravagant to fuse fashion with art.
Before moving to London to study at the prestigious Central Saint Martins, Jack Irving’s heart was captured by the characteristic atmosphere of Blackpool; “If you’ve ever been to see the bright lights of Blackpool, you’ll have noticed that everything is one big show and performance. Everything is fighting for your attention, even when you see a hot dog stand, it’ll be covered in flashing lights and screaming out at you”. And he’s not wrong, even in the quietest month, Blackpool begs for your attention with its creeping energy. “Having grown up in this environment, it became very normal to think that in order to obtain attention, things needed to be big, bold and bright. This seeped into my creative world and was the catalyst for me to have the confidence to make work that grabs people’s attention. It pushed me to try making my work as interesting and as eye-catching as possible.
“For many years now, my muse character has been an alien showgirl. She’s an enigma character that has many different guises! She’s a powerful and fabulous Goddess who deserves to wear the biggest, brightest and most innovative outfits. I see it as my role to fulfil this prophecy!” Irving’s obsession with showgirls began when he was 14 years old; to push his ideas further he took all of the inspiration he got from working with the Hot Ice Show in Blackpool, where he started making show girl costumes in his spare time, and created his own narratives. With a move to London, Irving began to learn how to appreciate just how colourful his roots were, but it also broadened his mind, giving deeper inspiration; “I was surrounded by the most incredible characters from every walk of life, and every culture”, he added, noting this as an expansion to his already wild ideas.
These pieces of art form an editorial vision titled “Alien vs. Predator”. With captivating oranges and iridescent shades of blue, the FIREFLY collection by Jack Irving was originally inspired by the metamorphosis of animals. For example, a caterpillar turning into a butterfly; “I wanted to take this into my intergalactic world”, Irving adds, “and to see how that metamorphosis looked in a futuristic space landscape. I wanted to see what new innovative life forms would evolve”.
It starts with a shape and a silhouette “in my head”, he continues, “it’s based on a concept, and I play in small-scale model and expand the shape. I make two to three prototypes in the final material to check the technicalities will all work as planned. I often experiment with a variety of materials to check for fabric weight, bounce and movement. The time spent from initial thought to final piece can take anywhere from one month to one year, depending on the scale and complexity of the design”.
Big. Fantastical. Galactic. Metallic. Transformative.
These are the five words Irving would use to describe his art and his style. Shifting patterns and shadows form the base of each design, moving, transforming, into something new with each gesture. “The dream is to continue to keep all of my passions alive, to keep creating collections of wearable art”, Irving finishes, touching on the hopes and dreams of where to take the Jack Irving name, “The dream is to keep collaborating with those in areas of set design and creative direction. I would love to take my aesthetic into theatre, film and dance and take things to an even bigger scale. It’s my dream to design and direct world tours for music artists”.
photographer MUDITA AERON
photographer’s assistant JONATHAN FAULKNER
makeup artist MIRA PARMER USING MAC PRO AND GHD HAIR
casting director AMANDA ASHED
models DARIA STADLER AND ALEXANDRA KARPOVA AT PROFILE MODELS, MIRO RAYNOV
all costumes JACK IRVING
shoes NATACHA MARRO
Click the images below for a full view to see more from the FIREFLY collection.