Clash has been hooked up with a Friday afternoon slot to talk partnerships with Astrid Andersen and A$AP Ferg, the latest duo to front Red Bull’s Catwalk Studio project; the product of which goes live today (we just time travelled).
It’s three weeks until Andersen presents her SS16 collection (back again), and the foyer at Red Bull HQ is a full on casting situation, with the designer and stylist Elgar Johnson watching boys walk up and down – reader, this actually happens.
Those awaiting their turn are stocking up on energy by way of beverage, exclaiming untold excitement at now possessing the full Red Bull range, sugar free variety aside: “Fuck that bruv.”
The latter of our party is running late, but a spread of Chinese food has been laid on in anticipation of his arrival and several plates (his eventual posse consists of five) later, the four of us, PR in tow, make for the calm of the recording studio.
In the 40 minutes we’re awarded, double what is caught on tape, subjects vary from cult 90's film, Warhol, Basquiat and Rothko, to copyright, star signs and Ferg’s definition of seduction.
Now a year since the latter played model in Astrid’s Topman collab campaign – the first time the two met, and as they insist, hugged it out like old pals – how did they arrive here? “Through Astrid,” replies Darold Ferguson Jr, “Astrid reaching out and the higher power bringing us together and making it a divine experience.”
“I felt almost like I stole your energy for that project,” responds Astrid. “For me it was amazing actually, because it brought something… for me it was about taking power of a situation that was kind of out of my hands.”
“Like you let someone take control, like hold your baby for a while?” offers Ferg. “Yeah just for a little bit you know, whereas this project it’s a lot more like, we’re using each others energy.”
‘This project’, a four year hit for the franchise, sees the Dane and New Yorker partner up on a track – to be played at the former’s catwalk show – a short film – “a lot of videos are about walking down the street where people feel familiar, or showing people where you’re from, but I was just so fascinated with the idea of creating a universe, an entirely isolated emotional whatever, visual thing you don’t see any more” – and a party: “I think this is gonna be a huge statement,” observes the rapper of the power of the pair.
Blue steel aside, Ferg’s fashion credentials are perhaps most prominent in his Cara Delevingne approved track ‘Dope Walk’ (below), but with an art and design school education, his appreciation goes beyond namechecking: “I wouldn’t even say I’m really into fashion, because, it’s only, I’m really into style and design, ‘cause I’m not big on designers.”
“You know, like you ask me that question a year, two years ago, I would say oh, I love Alexander Wang, or, Jeremy Scott is my friend, but I just really love the way people put their own style together, it don’t have to be name brand. Like Astrid, I don’t like her because she’s a household name, I like her style, I like her personality and that’s, as a younger guy, I learnt that early on, I didn’t really like Andy Warhol’s artwork, but I really loved him as a person because he was very interesting. The person behind the art makes the art.”
For her art, Andersen has this year alone presented in New York – the debut of a bespoke line – and Shanghai (as well as London). “That was amazing. You know I have such a strong connection to New York; coming from Denmark I was so influenced by America but I only visited for the first time two years ago. It felt like a huge dream actually.”
“Then Shanghai was a whole other level of crazy amazingness,” she continues. “But, it would almost break my heart if New York didn’t get me, because it would feel like you had a boyfriend that just didn’t get you, whereas Shanghai feels like a new neighbour I need to get to know.”
Both got her, but it’s the neighbour with whom the respective parties have connected over at Red Bull – China is apparently at the core of the video, track and the collection; ‘Big Trouble in Little China’ and ‘The Man with the Iron Fists’ are references – while it’s hip hop that in some funny turn presents itself as the elephant.
Much has been made (for as long as the genre has existed), of the correlation between fashion and hip hop, not least in alignment with Andersen’s pieces. “I personally don’t think about it that much, that’s just the music I’ve grown up with,” she says.
“I listen to it, it’s part of me, and that style is so deeply connected to what I’ve looked at my whole life, in terms of when someone is looking good. It’s the same thing with skinny jeans and indie rock, but this is like (people say), hip hop relates to streetwear.”
“When you say streetwear it takes away from what she does, because her stuff is straight couture. Streetwear I think was like birth, to make quick cash,” offers her support.
“And another thing, coming from a hip hop artist, we’ve always took things and made it cool; she’s just a victim of being a hip hop baby. We always like to box people in or whatever, but you can start at hip hop and go in the world and create something totally different. You don’t have to come out of hip hop and maintain and be hip hop.”
Ferg’s sway towards Astrid’s work was he says, very magnetic: “It’s very alluring and it’s seductive in a way.”
“That’s a really good word, seductive,” enthuses Astrid. “I mean, that’s what it should be isn’t it.”
Certainly, that’s how present company plays out.
Words: Zoe Whitfield
Photos: A$AP Ferg by Alastair Strong, Astrid Andersen c/o Ella Dror
Find out more and watch the finished video at www.redbull.com.