“I can walk to my studio from home, that’s a luxury to me,” considers Caitlin Price of her professional residency in SE23. “It makes sense to be here, and I like knowing I’m not going to bump into anyone.”
There is also, presumably, the question of primary research; Price’s collections, while merging silhouettes common to the V&A’s catalogue with contemporary formulas, are overwhelmingly influenced by her native south London, the one that preceded the most recent round of gentrification. “There is definitely an autobiographical element to my work,” she agrees. “It is inspired by the girls I see every day and the clothes I wore or wanted to wear growing up. I don’t see what I do as just making clothes, the work tells a story.”
Indeed, as she explains it seasons AW15 through to AW16 are visual connotations of the movements that comprise a big night out: the former was based on girls getting ready while SS16 took inspiration from a nostalgia for drum ‘n’ bass (the club scene, if you will), AW16 was about girls walking home after a night out.
“I still have the same group of girlfriends I had growing up and style is really important to them,” she continues. “I love the rituals involved in getting ready to go somewhere and how seriously everyone takes it.”
Following a BA in Brighton, an MA at Central Saint Martins, and a three year stint assisting Christopher Shannon that culminated in her appointment as womenswear designer for the label’s SS15 debut, Caitlin Price, the label proper, was picked up by Fashion East at the beginning of 2015. Following two ‘static’ presentations, earlier this year the label took to the catwalk for the first time – under the watchful eye of Marc Jacobs no less – the soundtrack for which pretty much pulsated through the Tate Britain.
“Every collection I design begins with the soundtrack I’m planning for the show,” Caitlin enthuses, “It’s one of the most important starting points for me. It helps to tell the story, to imagine the girl, what she’s wearing, what she’s doing.” Needless to say, music is one of the label’s most prevalent features.
“I work closely with Joe (Bond) designing each soundtrack and the sets, he is one of my best friends, we lived together when we were studying in Brighton.” To date this collaboration has manifested itself with stark, mirrored sets, abstract speaker systems, and soundtracks that marry garage pirate radio vocals with field recordings from both south London and Kings Cross.
Elsewhere her work has picked up fans in the industry, as Katy B’s recent Brixton Academy show proved. “We went to the same school and have friends in common,” Price explains of the custom made outfit the singer donned a couple of weeks ago; a pink and black get up that riffed on the block panel aesthetic of AW16. “It was a fun project to work on and I’m really happy with the look! I’ve also been working with Little Simz on a very exciting project for Selfridges launching this summer…” A swift Instagram scroll reveals the early stages: the rapper paints a picture in full look baby pink.
Away from the rude girls of Honor Oak Park, work by the Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra is a core feature of the Caitlin Price moodbood. “I first saw the video for (Rineke Dijkstra’s) ‘Buzz Club’ at Tate in 2008 at the ‘Street and Studio’ exhibition. I watched it over and over on loop,” the designer asserts. “The simplicity of the idea struck me: re-contextualising a club environment by putting it against a white wall in a brightly lit room. How uncomfortable that seems and how each participant responds differently. How the girls look in their outfits, how their body language changes whilst they adjust to the setting.”
“I’m always drawn to club photography and footage, I love the confidence of British girls on a night out, so to me ‘Buzz Club’ is fascinating,” she adds. “I’ve also been inspired by Mark Lecky’s ‘Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore’. For my SS16 presentation I wanted to create my own club visuals, so I worked on a piece with Benjamin Bowe-Carter (above). I’m still so proud of it; it captures everything that inspired that collection.”
To a London eye the bulk of Price’s references are perhaps easy to place – anyone whose school or home life centred south of the river in the early noughties particularly, will identify with many elements of the aesthetic she presents – but beyond that her pieces are rightfully lauded, as recognition from the acclaimed LVMH prize committee suggests: earlier in 2016 she was named as one of 23 designers nominated for the prize’s third edition.
“It was an honour to have been selected three seasons in,” she asserts of the accolade. “I was out of my comfort zone completely, but it was an important experience for me. I was so nervous but I thought fuck it, I may as well take everything I can from the experience. Meeting the judges, explaining my work to people who have never seen it before or who don’t relate to my references was a challenge and a good push for me.”
An advocate for teamwork, this summer she will drop her first jewellery line in collaboration with Maria Francesca Pepe – “It’s hard to do those things properly on your own” – something she’s eager to pursue further. A web store is also in the works, while plans for SS17 will no doubt occupy all hours between now and September.
Words: Zoe Whitfield