ANDREA CREWS, PARIS
If you belong to the school of thought that believes fashion is essentially a vapid and vain craft; couture an inaccessible, readily disposable art unless you have pocketfuls of cash to fork out each season and you wear a size 2 (US), 4 (UK), 32 (France), 30 (Germany), 36 (Italy) or a 5 (Japan), or if you have ever frequented a fashion week and rubbed shoulders with the black-clad, over-sized sunglasses at night crowd, then cast these images from your mind. There is a new collective with a different point of view, banishing the über-exclusivity to the back of the closet and flinging the doors wide open with outreach projects, sustainable fashion, 100% recycled goods, and in their words “an opposition to the dominant uniformity”, and quite right too.
A sizable collective of artists, performers, stylists, designers, DJs and directors are moving and shaking until the collective pseudonym Andrea Crews, based in Paris with a singular neon shop and workspace, nestled among the seedy sex clubs of the city on the Rue Frochot in Pigalle.
However, their work is hardly confined to the French capital. Collaborating with well-known names like performance/surgical artist Orlan and fake band art group Chicks on Speed as equally as any interested amateurs, setting up projects in Germany, India, Spain, the USA, Indonesia, and beyond, they generally stand for such refreshing credos as hands-on creativity, experimentation, freedom of expression, ethical anti-consumerism, and Fun with a capital F.
The disposability of mainstream fashion and trends works in their favour as they glean and scavenge over the cast-offs, transforming and reshaping garments, in an original overhaul of the second-hand, vintage and customised vogue.
Founded by Maroussia Rebecq whose first collection, fresh out of the Beaux arts de Bordeaux in 1999, already in the vein of the “ready-made”, evolved the work from simply being about clothing and the trend-predicting mainstream fashion world, instead embracing graffiti, plundering counter-culture, comics, punk, electro music and snippets of porn in a melange of styles and concepts.
The linking of many different art forms allows for social and aesthetic channels to flow with clothes-making events carried out in large scale galleries and assorted venues such as the Palais de Tokyo and La Generale in Paris, Galerie BGF in Berlin, La Casa Encendida in Madrid and workshops in the less affluent boroughs of New York City to name but a few.
Gigantesque murals and graffiti walls are developed, humanitarian associations take part in the actions, youth projects for school children are organised, nurturing resourcefulness and artistic skills, encircled by music, video and photography.
Taking the photo-shoots out of the studio from time to time and into the grubby Parisian Metro, skate parks, parties of their own making, and also right there in the shop, the brand champions a positive and diverse body image for both men and women, regardless of age and size.
Recycled individual fashion without the baggage of exclusivity, especially coming out of a traditional chic mode capital like Paris, is really a breath of fresh air.
With such a melting pot of ideas from amateurs and professionals alike, some of the pieces are rather avant-garde and revolutionary in terms of wearable fashion, with mask hats made from baby knits, accessory collars consisting largely of dissected suit and leather jackets, upside down coats becoming dresses, and high heels spray painted in bold ice-cream colours.
Granted, some of the price tags in the shop, also available to buy online, are a little on the high side, (€50 for flouro leggings, €150 for a flock printed sweater) but for one-of-a-kind pieces, they can just about get away with it. Alternatively, you can always take a leaf out of their book and transform low-cost second hand stuff into original apparel yourself or at one of their workshop events near you.www.andreacrews.com
10, rue frochot