Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Proper: Simon Costin

Simon Costin photographed by Tim Walker.

The universe of fashion fantasy has so many hardworking employees. Flipping through the pages of a magazine, it may not be immediately apparent just how much work goes into the creation of the fantastic, 15-page shoots. One of my goals here at I Want To Wear It. is to highlight the people who's creative genius makes the stunning look seamless. Simon Costin is one of those talented people.

His set work has been an integral part of the photography of Tim Walker. Walker's work is phenomenal, a visual fairytale. Costin constructs the often over-sized objects that fill the frames of Walker's shots with fun, and surreal scenery that one wishes was really real.

Simon had his beginnings as a jewelry designer. His biomorphic, body-centric pieces (and perhaps his notorious use of materials like human sperm) caught the eye of designer Alexander McQueen who asked to use some of his jewelry in a show. That collaboration led to Costin taking on the role of McQueen's creative director, staging shows and creating sets. The size and scope of that work appealed so much to Costin that he took it up full time, leaving McQueen to focus on set design.

Pieces of Simon's Jewelry that make use of samples of human sperm (l) and taxidermy talons (r).

His set work is phenomenal. Sculpting and creating objects by hand when most of the fashion world has moved on to digital manipulation is downright admirable. That giant camera in that Tim Walker shoot? It's real. The huge magazine a life size model emerges from in Vogue? Simon made that out of plastic sheets. Isn't that fantastic?

Currently Simon's branching out beyond sets and exploring a passion he's had since his youth. His lifelong fascination with the folkloric traditions of Britain has led him to establish The Museum of British Folklore.

Intended as a unifying institution, the museum will educate its visitors on all the mythic traditions of British cultures past and present. The practice of hosting festivals and ceremonies and staging traditional rituals is still so alive and well in Britain that Costin's project is hotly anticipated. I (and so many others) cannot wait to see what this visual, creative genius does with an entire museum. For now I'll stare at his set work and dream little dreams of what may be.

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