I meet Giles Deacon the day after his much talked-about F/W 2015-16 show in London, and he seems relaxed and content as he does a playback of last night’s presentation in his design studio. He’s right to feel pleased, too; it was filled with major feels — salon-style ambience where each room was done up with taxidermy, creepy-crawlies and dim lighting; with a march of old and new supers like Erin O’Connor, Jessica Stam, Edie Campbell and Kendall Jenner in patent leather bodices, frilly shirts with bibs, marbled frock coats and velvet mules by Jimmy Choo. That’s the thing about Deacon’s version of fashion, though — it’s dramatic and irreverent, and yet, there’s something for everyone to call dibs on.
And he’s bringing these distinctive qualities to Indian shores through a playful high-street collaboration with Koovs.com. Neither designing for the high street nor collaborations are new to Deacon’s body of work. Between a two-year stint with Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and his run at Bottega Veneta in 1998, he worked with a selection of high-street brands. After going solo in 2003, he launched into a series of tie-ups, ranging from New Look (his most successful) to Cadburys. “[Collaborations] really work nicely — they’re good for business, they’re also good from a creative and design perspective. It needs to be really fresh and exciting,” he says, adding, “I also like things to have a personality of their own.”
Just like his muse, Brit-Indian DJ, super-blogger, model, all-round It girl, Bip Ling, daughter of renowned artist Tanya Ling, who he met at Peter Copping’s [creative director at Oscar de la Renta] 40th birthday party, where they were both DJing (it was 14-year-old Ling’s first ever gig). “I was really cheeky. He [Deacon] started playing Madonna; I rolled my eyes and said, ‘That’s far too gay for me’ and walked off!” laughs Ling. She then interned with him, as she says, “I sewed on the sequins for Giles Deaconsss!” But Deacon adores these little quirks about her, “Bip being Bip has gone on to do many other Bip things. She likes doing things differently, putting her own stamp on things and you know, she’s full of life. Which is what I kind of like with people. I want people to enjoy wearing clothes.”
Any jitters then, while preparing for the Indian customer, I ask? He’s not worried; he has a number of private Indian clients and has picked up a few pointers from his conversations with them. “I love their singular sense of… what can I call it? It’s not a statement, but they like their fashion to be very strong.” And that feeling doesn’t stray too far from a typical Deacon creation, as he explains, “We’re never going to do just a boring, sit-in-a-corner thing that you won’t get noticed in. I think there is a kind of good affinity in what I like to design and what a certain Indian market will like. I hope!”
Four months of work, 37 styles and three sub-collections later, the Giles at KOOVS range is a mix of bold patterns, versatile silhouettes and luxe textures at add-to-cart-now prices (from Rs 395 to Rs 2,495). Pick from an easy feather-printed smock dress for day-to-dusk schedules or skinny pants with trompe-l’œil diamond dots. But the seal-the-deal factor is really Deacon’s sense of humour in his designs. “Well, you know, it’s not just like slapstick jokes. And it’s not ironic either. Playfulness is probably a better way to describe it. It’s based, I suppose, in a way, historically; like [Elsa] Schiaparelli designed by using different aspects and motifs in a newly appropriated manner,” he says.
Deacon is back in India now (the first was a flying visit to Mumbai a while ago) busy chalking down his list of to-dos. Eating spicy street food? “Of course, I can! I’m from the North of England,” he exclaims. Join the hordes outside Bollywood biggie Amitabh Bachchan’s house on a Sunday? I get a guffaw, “That sounds quite mental!” But you know he approves.
Giles at KOOVS launches on April 23, on Koovs.com
Flip through the gallery to see more pieces from the range and find behind-the-scenes images
Photographs: Amar Daved; Make-Up: Holly Silius; Hair: Elvire Roux/Phamous Artists