Creatures of The Wind is conceptual label made by the ingenious duo Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters. I came across their work for the first time in the spring at Stand Up Comedy boutique in Portland. I was intrigued by the craftmanship and overall feel of their collection. I wanted to see more, curious about the refreshing new label that had left an impression on me. My fascination has led me to do this interview to help fill the void on what I was missing out on.Who said you can’t wear art?
Where did Creatures of the Wind get started?
We started Creatures of the Wind (COTW) together in late 2007, beginning with the Fall 2008 collection. We met at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), where we both attended, and where I currently teach.
The name comes from the song ‘Wild is the Wind’, we really love the original Johnny Mathis version the most, but I was first familiar with the Nina Simone version.
Have you heard the Cat Power version of Creatures of the Wind? It’s really good.
I do love the Cat Power cover as well. For Chris, the name conjured images of large flying insects and monsters from early 80’s anime. We thought it was funny that we had such divergent associations with the phrase; but we also think it’s a really accurate representation of where our aesthetics converge.
(Photos: Hisham Bharoocha)
What were your prior occupations before making Creatures of the Wind?
We have both worked high-end retail as assistant buyers, and as studio or design assistants. Currently, I am a full-time professor at SAIC, and Chris is a studio assistant to the artist Nick Cave.
You both reside in Chicago… Is the city receptive to your collection?
While we wouldn’t say that Chicago is un-receptive to our collection, we don’t feel that it is our primary audience, either. We do have a small, but loyal following here, and a great deal of support from a few select people. Where we live has almost nothing to do with our collection — we could be anywhere, designing the same way. While progressive retail and forward-thinking people exist here, it’s a very small community; there certainly isn’t the wide spread fashion scene that exists in New York.
We work with independent patternmakers and sample makers in the city, but we also work alone in our studio; we collaborate every season with artists or designers from other mediums.
Can you explain the environment in which you work?
We work in a studio that is attached to our home, on the west side of Chicago, in Humboldt Park.
What is the first piece of art that you both bought together?
It was an illustration by artist Mark Brown (an SAIC grad and former Chicago resident), who designed our logo for us.
Did you have a theme when making your 2009 fall collection?
Yes. The Fall ‘09 collection was initially inspired by the Golden Record, which was an actual album of sorts, sent up in the Voyager spacecraft in the late 1970’s. It was meant to be sort of a general overview of humanity, relayed through sounds, music, greetings in many different languages, etc. The idea was that someday, some other intelligent life form might happen upon this record and be able to learn about us through these sounds. We were really touched by the sentimentality and idealism. It also brought to mind images of something lost, floating in space, with very little chance of ever being found. These ideas, the atmosphere that it suggests, mixed with some subtle visual references from the time period, became our point of departure for the collection.
I find that your collection takes a more imaginative approach to design.
Yes, that is fair to say. It’s important to us to have a well-researched and developed concept as a starting point. As well as giving us parameters to work within, we are able to really dig in to specific ideas.
Can you explain to us your collaboration with Stephen Eichhorn — the artist known for his hand-cut plant-theme collages?
Stephen is a good friend of ours, whose work we have always really appreciated. When we were developing the Spring 2009 collection, which was focused on themes of Mayday and Rites of Spring, Stephen’s work seemed like a natural and logical representation of fertility. We thought that his imagery could act as symbolic and contemporary representation of the ideas we wanted to convey.
Do you use a lot of handcrafted techniques in your collection?
As I mentioned, collaborations are a very important part of our work. We also feel very connected to handcrafts and artisan details, so we search out collaborators who have specific skill sets that can enrich this aspect of our work.
Any designers that you are inspired by right now?
We love the work of Bill Hinz, a fiber artist from the 70’s. Madsaki, a contemporary artist and designer, and the architect Mickey Meunnig.
If you could collaborate with any artist or designer, who would you choose?
Elisabeth Higgins O’Connor, who makes incredibly beautiful stuffed animal/doll-like sculptures. We love the sentimentality, rawness, and general sensation.
Did either of you work for other designers before starting Creatures Of The Wind?
I lived in Antwerp for a year and a half, and worked for Dirk Schonberger, Bivak Knitwear Atelier, and Jurgi Persoons. Chris currently works for Nick Cave, who does fashion as well as sculpture and objects.
Can you describe for us your S/S Collection?
Spring 2010 is about the end of innocence, the transition into adulthood and the awkwardness surrounding this time.
You presented your S/S 10 collection at Fashion Week in New York at the Maryam Nassir Zadeh store? How did it go?
It was the perfect location to do our first Fashion Week presentation. The shop is fantastic, and the space lent itself to the atmosphere that we hoped to create. We collaborated with NYC artists Confetti Systems on the set, and our friends, musicians Robert Lowe (Lichens) and Matteah Baim, wrote the music and performed.
Where can we find your clothing being sold at?
Right now we are working with Stand Up Comedy in Portland, Gallery de Vie in Hong Kong, and Maryam Nassir Zadeh in NYC.
What is the best thing about working together?
Constant dialogue, and constant support. We keep each other focused and motivated.
Can you give us words of advice for couples that work together?
Two sewing machines!
edited by Onwyn Stacey