Christian Cowan-Sanluis in his studio
PHOTOGRAPHY: CARL WILSON
PRODUCTION: KYLIE GRIFFITHS
Words: Suzie McCracken
Make-up and hair: Bethany Owens, using MAC, Bobbi Brown, Sugarpill, Urban Decay, Chanel and Illamasqua
Model: Alicia Davis
“I’m sponsored by a glitter company called Bbrown,” laughs 20-year-old Christian Cowan-Sanluis. This makes a lot of sense: his Soho studio is fucking covered in the stuff. It’s a “love affair”, he says, mopping up all the sparkly shrapnel that’s been shredded during our shoot of his SS15 collection, which looks like it’d fit right in somewhere between a barn dance and an episode of The Simple Life.
Christian’s name has been all over the place recently thanks to a collaborative project with Acer that resulted in the “selfie hat”. Combining his penchant for covering massive hats in glitter with a photo-equipped tablet, he managed to create what is arguably the most talked-about thing in tech that doesn’t come with compulsory U2. “I wouldn’t have called it a sombrero, but that’s what Acer have called it,” he says. “It’s actually based on an Amish hat.”
The promo video for Christian's "selfie hat"
However, there’s currently little time to lap up all the hype, as Christian is in the midst of preparations for his ambitious 30-piece collection at London Fashion Week. “When I first started I was quite ad-hoc, but now there's a definite theme,” he says. “Last time it was an 80s girl band that hated each other and were all jostling for the limelight. This one is based on Beverley Hillbillies – hillbillies who find oil on their ranch and become billionaires.”
Kindly, in between all that sewing and cutting, he takes the time to talk us through a few of his key pieces.
“This is a overall top and jeans with frayed sparkly holes, a big-ass straw hat and loads of side-boob. Side boob is great – if you’ve got ‘em, show ‘em off! What’s very convenient is that my stepdad has a farm, and that's where all the wheat's from in this collection; it’s on skirts, tops and the giant hats. The jewelery, like this arm cuff, is also cast from the wheat and was made in collaboration with Lucky Little Blighters.”
Click through to see more of Christian's collection.
“I love cropped things. In my past two collections the midriff was never covered; always out. One, because it's cool, and two, because it's easier for stylists to have two pieces so they can mix it up. The shoes – I just like to do them so they compliment the clothing. They’re all jokes. These ones have what are meant to be travel stamps on them, which, of course, are glittery.
“The vibe is that the hillbillies got their clothes and paid an amazing tailor to make them into something fabulous.”
“You can see the Shania Twain influence here. We’re playing her whole album during the LFW presentation. The vibe of the outfit is that this girl owns all the oil fields and she's looking out of her office window at them. She’s owns it all.
“All of the swatches were sewn on separately, so it took me and two interns a solid four or five days of work. Then the bra with hundred dollar bills in it is from a different girl, who decided to become a stripper despite being a billionaire. They’re actually vintage bills printed on neoprene, and we also did the presentation invites as pink bills, too, with a girl in place of the president.”
“I didn't realise until this outfit was made that it’s basically Jesse from Toy Story. I just had to do chaps and cow print. I was told I shouldn't do cow print because Jeremy Scott's done tons and I never want to seem like I'm copying anyone. But I thought I could just do one! It's glittery appliqué. I also did pink glitter chaps – which were on VICE before, actually – and wanted to do another version, this time in blue.”
“This is a mini apron made from a tea-towel so you can see her butt. This hillbilly girl just got up and decided to wrap the tea-towel around her waist as an apron, to make something in the kitchen. It goes with the pink towel bralette and the gold wheat choker. Also, the cowboy hats were pretty obvious with the hillbilly stuff, but again, this one is in the pink towel material.”
“This is the straw outfit, with loads of under-boob this time. I got the knit done by a friend – it's mohair and gold lurex. It sparkles a bit, especially more so in real life.
“The suitcase – which is my favorite piece of the collection, I think – has a gay pride logo on it because it's already so camp and glittery. And the burlap trousers have coffee stamps and glitter that say 'Christian's Roasted Blend London SS15 Best Quality’.”