Remember Gala Dali’s perky lamb chop hat? And Dali’s pulsating ruby heart jewel? Remember that Schiaparelli suit with drawers for front pockets? Or the demure white afternoon dress printed with lobsters clutching parsley by Dali?
If you think the era of such Surrealist high jinks is but a dim and fragrant memory, wake up and smell the coffee, because it’s back — packed up in a sequined Duchamp urinoi rucksack, thanks to The Rodnik Band.
Created and designed by the British artist-designer Philip Colbert, the Rodnik Band label’s presentation is inspired by the Pop Art movement, and Colbert presents it as a pop band rather than a traditional fashion label. The collection is a fizzing amalgamation of music, art and fashion. Just like the Surrealists, in fact.
© Philip Colbert
‘My work walks a humorous line between fashion and art,’ Colbert explains in his blog. ‘I like the idea that my clothing is taken off the wall and worn, that each style expresses an artistic idea that is accessible and makes a thoughtful statement. I feel that fashion’s greatest value is in fantasy and escapism. For me, humour is a powerful tool to push.
‘I consider myself more of an artist than a fashion designer’ he adds, ‘because I am inspired by the idea of creating a world a bit like Alexander Calder’s work. It’s the holistic approach — Calder designed the exterior of planes, he made works of art on paper, strung mobiles, designed tapestries, rugs — whatever.’
To Colbert, what he creates is all about taking a language and visualising it in different dimensions. ‘It makes a very modern dialogue between objects,’ he explains. ‘I very much like clothing as a democratic way to show creativity for instance, because if you make a dress as opposed to a painting, the dress can be worn. Someone can get on to a plane to America wearing it. All the painting can do is hang in a gallery.’
Philip Colbert, Sequin Pop Scene with Leg Art © Philip Colbert
So do a lot of people buy pieces like his Duchamp urinal dress? ‘The Duchamp was an edition of five and it is sold out,’ he says.
‘Most artists start off by creating spectacle concepts and then in a way they break that down. Damien Hirst started out with the shark and then sold thousands of dot prints on pencil cases and so on. I went down the opposite route and started out making fashion for niche people like art collectors and crazy ladies that wanted something different to wear to a party.
‘It was definitely a niche thing,’ he continues. ‘I mean, you are never going to sell thousands of the sequinned Duchamp dress but on the flip side I have much more commercial collections’. These include handbags which are, he says, ‘An amazing medium for being crazy yet wearable.’ Try the sequinned ham clutch bag or the lipstick shoulder bag, or the Duchamp urinal bag ... Actually you can’t. They have sold out.
As with The Rodnik Band, so with its founder: different. Colbert has a degree in philosophy from St Andrews University, a qualification he describes as ‘quite random.’ But, he adds, ‘Any art should come from philosophy — it gives one strong thoughts.’
Rodnik, cigarette clutch © Philip Colbert
But why Surrealism? ‘I love the fantasy of it,’ he replies. ‘It’s world where you can make pianos fall from the sky; a world one could create in the fifth dimension.’
Like the Smart Car Colbert has just plastered with his fried egg print, The Rodnik Band is smart, playful, and surreal.