Specialising in print and vibrant colour, Kitty Joseph is the latest name on Absolut Vodka’s lips, as she collaborates with the brand on a new three look capsule collection.
Taking inspiration from the brand’s Absolut Originality – which taps into its Swedish roots with a cobalt blue infused bottle – Joseph’s pieces echo the same ethereal sentiment, modelled above by rapper Njena Reddd Foxx.
Clash sought five minutes with the designer to talk teaching, drinking and collaborating.
How did it feel when Absolut approached you to do the project, considering their previous collaborators have included names such as Tom Ford and Gareth Pugh?
I was really surprised, and also flattered; Absolut collaborate not just with big names but also with inspirational people, and I was so excited to be approached.
What was it about the project – and the colours – that struck a chord with you so much?
The concept developed from a previous collaboration with Rohan Wadham, which involved filming dyes dispersing in water. The fluid shapes created by moving coloured liquid is endlessly inspiring, and the fact the Njena’s track that we chose to use was titled ‘Watercolours’ even before we met was a really lovely coincidence.
The colour blue is so beautiful in water and has so many happy connotations, and the visual effects of it washing over a dancing figure in the video has a poetic quality.
Did you find using just two colours restrictive at all?
The restriction on the colour palette was a welcome change for me, because I usually spend a huge amount of my time within a season adjusting and refining my colour palettes.
I loved having a set colour to work with, and it meant that I could concentrate on creating the mood of the piece and developing the compositional elements that I wanted to create for the garments.
What was it about Njena Reddd Foxxx that made her so right for the project?
I was introduced to Njena by Ella Dror, who always seems to be able to put the right people together. I really loved her when I met her in person and I think we really understood each other.
She is a true innovator, and creatively, quite a polymath! She seems so apply herself successfully to so many areas in a really natural way. I love her music and she’s a great performer too; her dancing added a different edge to the film and I think her character really comes through.
You’ve worked with big labels and you lecture at Coventry University. How do you find – if at all – the various paths feed into each other?
From a design point of view, I suppose working as a designer and helping to teach young designers is all linked, and if anything I think university students and designers working in their field should be connected as much as possible. Students studying design degrees are creating fantastic ideas and designers need this optimism sometimes, as it can become lost in the reality of life and work.
And also, designers being involved with student courses can really bring opportunities to the students and help them form connections and understand how the industry works. So I enjoy teaching for those reasons and also I’m open to collaborating as much as possible too- working with other people, particularly when they have a completely different set of skills to you is really exciting and challenging.
What is it about colour that you find most exciting?
I would say I am most excited by colours when they are combined in beautiful and unexpected ways. Sometimes seeing someone on the street wearing really unusual shades of colours or seeing a really bright bouquet of flowers for example, can trigger a whole thought process which spurs me on to design something I’m excited about.
You’ve collaborated with Zandra Rhodes and Piers Atkinson previously. Who would be your dream collaborator?
There are so many people I admire and would love to work with. However the best collaborations I have taken part in have come about naturally. It’s been an organic process, and things align and you meet people and the mood is right.
I feel like I’ve already had a few dream collaborations and these have come about in a similar way, so I wouldn’t want to jinx it!
You work with plastic a lot. What is it that appeals most about the material?
I really love how plastics absorb colour in such vibrant ways, and that they can really pop out of an outfit. Perspex in particular has been my material of choice for quite some time, it sometimes reminds me of toys I played with as a child and it helps me keep a sense of humour in my work.
What’s your mixer of choice when drinking vodka?
It would have to be mango with a measure of apple and a splash of lime. This was the recipe for a cocktail Absolut concocted for me at an event recently – it was called the Absolut Kitty!
And what’s next for the Kitty Joseph label?
I’m starting now to work on AW14 at the moment, and I’m in the early stages of research so I have a lot of colourful ideas spinning around. I’m excited to expand my accessories collections, and explore and develop ideas in my mainline with more refined design and detailing. It’s an exciting time of growth for the label!
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