Monday, February 15, 2010

The Horst Interview: Tim Hamilton

Tim Hamilton Portrait 1993

Against Parisian doubt and skepticism, American intruder Tim Hamilton has established himself as respected designer. Each of his collections a declaration of love, une chanson d’amour, composed of diverse and complementary verses. Pieces that deny exact classification. Marked by the exquisite juxtaposition of layers and materials. Cohesively united by his devotion and aesthetic sensuality.

Fall/Winter 2010

Dear Tim, how are you? Congratulations on an amazing show.

Thank you! It‘s been great getting some nice feedback. I think I slept 3 hours that week.

What is Monsieur wearing today?

Pajamas! A white V-neck T-shirt and pajama bottoms. As for the scent, I like it natural. A good tobacco scent soap is enough. It‘s Sunday AM, my favorite time of the week.

We've seen the men's skirt in nearly every collection this season. How sympathetic are you towards this tendency?

Overall I think there are ways of interpreting these feminine silhouettes cut into men’s garments. I think it should be in a realistic light though, not just for shock value. I feel that’s dated. We actually did corsets in two lengths but more subdued styled as a men’s corset should be.

Fall/Winter 2010

Your Fall/Winter 2010 collection is very refined and centers on contemporary classics of the men's wardrobe. Is there a particular garment you evolve from season to season?

Yes, the tailoring is something I like to evolve each season. But in general, I feel like it’s an evolution each new season.

You are referring to the reconstruction of disfigured faces of wounded servicemen using the very flesh of their fallen compriots during World War I. Can you elaborate on this approach?

I wanted to recapture the urgency and functionality of this wartime. Jackets are sewn with detachable straps, almost harnesses. I took the scraps from the suit fabric and applied them onto the jackets. It’s the spirit of using the same fabric in layers. Snaking, suture-like patterns crisscross and wind over jacquard and intarsia knits. Aprons and corsets underlay blazers, offering a promise of protection.

I am in love with the bondage pants. What is their background?

These pants were the most complicated to make. They are sewn in a hundred panels and finally endued with a strap going around. Again, the construction follows the utility surgery concept: straps constructed of leftover fabrics and applied onto the garment in a self-constituting way.

You also name photographer August Sander as another important reference point for the collection.

He traveled across Germany in the early years of the century, shooting men and women buffeted by the changes of their time, yet in front of his camera, they are stilled. They gaze into his lens, uncertain but unafraid. Sander called his famous collection Citizens of the Twentieth Century. I’d like to dress the citizens of the twenty-first.

August Sander vs. Tim Hamilton Fall/Winter 2010

What is the male Tim Hamilton archetype?

The infamous question. I think it’s an all walks of life urban guy, meaning someone who lives in major cities and is in knowledge of longevity of a garment and the fabric and mood. I would like to think somewhat ageless as well.

Would you like to design an underwear collection in collaboration with little Horsti?

Yes, bring it on. HAMILTON x HORSTI!

I heard you are currently working on a T-shirt collaboration with artist Victor Antonio, how is it evolving?

Yes, he is so great. We did a graphic T-shirt collaboration for the REDUX line. We wanted to highlight fashion icons. The story will break soon. Wait, guess you just did!

REDUX presentation, New York February 2010

Your women's collection will be presented in Paris in March, what will it look like?

It will relate more to the men's. Graphic, modern, clean and layered.

I feel an antithetic fight of conformism and rebellion speaking through your pieces. Sudden disruptions break with the expectations of what the beholder believes to see. Women's trousers that elusively change their shape, men's tailoring with unexpected textures.

I’ll take that. I do have a way of challenging myself. Making sure my ideas translate well. I think with every piece I create, it becomes easier for me to express my inner thoughts.

Details Spring/Summer 2010

How is the city of romance treating you these days, as you've been perceived as a threatening outsider, an American werewolf in Paris.

Ha! Well, it’s much kinder after last season. Maybe they are getting used to me.

If you were a macaroon, which flavor would it be?

Hmmm, maybe praline? Sweet and nutty!

You love Germany, don't you?

I do love Germany. I love Berlin! I feel like I was part of Germany in a past life. All my interns come from Germany. Why they email me, I don’t know. I think there is such an openness when I go to Germany as well as hard work ethics but also such forward leader in the art world still. I really enjoy visiting.

Which were your favourite and/or most complicated and dramatic pieces during development of your Spring/Summer 2010 collections?

I love absolute whiteness. It’s a statement of no flaw. On him it was interpreted as work wear space suit, updated with white boots. On her it recalls a summer scenario at the sea.

Transparent yet technical fabrics built a core for the men’s collection. I aimed for an at ease feel contrasted by the hint of a silver bracelet. On her I wanted bold red to pop out of nowhere while projected onto a minimalist dress.

The cropped kangaroo leather jacket was a tough challenge. The women’s look was very NY to me. A bold yet very casual and classic look with a touch of leather, black lipstick and thick wedge zip boots. I hope to see this look on the streets this spring!

Utility is an overused word in fashion but I’ve always been passionate about working with military shapes and modernizing them. In menswear, there should always be a hint of this heritage. I especially love this belted waist jacket with caped shoulders. For me it is super modern. The women’s jacket transports a similar feel while it is bias-cut in the back and provided with extended pockets. I love shades of grey.

You have a strong American sportswear background. Are there any obsessions of this era that you still pursue, e.g. jockstraps?

You dirty boy! Wouldn't it be nice to reinvent the jockstrap? One day I’ll bring the old jock in me out. Not feeling it now.

How was Tim Hamilton as a teenager? How did he dress, what did he fancy?

You actually remind me a lot of how I was. I was driven to stand out but I also had to go to wrestling practice. It was a tough balance but the dreams and ideas you have as teenager are very freeing. It’s when you actually have to start making a living. As an adult you don’t tend to be as free-thinking. I've been back to this free state of mind since I started my line. It feels good! A dream.

You used to do wrestling? Can you tell me more about it, the athletic aspect, the close body interaction, the sensual touch of it?

Oh boy, I didn’t think of it as heated moment when doing it back then. It was all about trying to win and impress my older brothers. I didn’t really know my strength until I got older but I do like the intensity of being physical and sweating. Guess that’s why l like Collier Schorr’s work.

Stills from Ropes by Collierr Schorr for Tim Hamilton Spring/Summer 2010

What was your biggest act of rebellion so far?

I think I've pissed a lot of people off. I've been going against the grain since I was a kid but I'm still a gentleman. I'm not an ass or rude in my intention. I just challenge thoughts and rules. You have to. Otherwise you won’t be looked at and respected at all.

Who would you want to be, what would be the idealized projection of yourself?

I'm happy with who I am. I could be a bit leaner with some yoga but you are who you are and you find what works for you. I think in this industry it’s easy to be self-conscious but as you get older you make peace with how you look. Maybe that’s too deep?

What were the 5 latest images you saved for inspiration or personal amusement on your desktop?

My dog Simon, naughty bits pix, a Richard Wentworth photo, Michael Borreman artwork, music I need to download.

Tim Hamilton & Simon, Michael Borreman works, Pioneer's Chorus Moscow 1977

I am dreaming of a sex slave in a cage, what is your fantasy?

Too many to mention!

And finally, will you marry me?

Yes, but you'll have to be the 2nd wife.

Tim, thank you very much for your precious time and dedicated contribution.

Image credits Catwalking, Dazed Digital,, Tim Hamilton

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