Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sequins, feminism and female empowerment | An interview with Sophie of King Sophie's World

 King Sophie’s World started in 2011 as way for you to create wearable art. Can you tell us about what King Sophie’s World means to you and how the idea evolved into the awesome universe it is today? 

In all honesty, I started King Sophie's World because at the time I was really unhappy, I felt like I wasn't doing what I wanted to do with my life. I knew what I wanted to do, I wanted to be an artist but I wanted to create on my own terms. So I made my own world, where I'm free to be who I want to be! I work better being my own boss.

One of the things I love about KSW is that everything is hand embroidered by you. Are you self-taught and what do you love about it?

Yeah, I'm self-taught. I've kept some of the things I first embellished... they look like shit! I've spent so much of my time over the last few years sewing and developing a technique that I like. I like embroidering everything myself because it gives me a sense of accomplishment. People tell me all the time I should outsource production but it just wouldn't feel right to me. I genuinely enjoy it, if I go a few days without making something, I notice I start to get laggy.

 Did you always have an interest in fashion or would you say more so art?

I would say art came first but I've always been interested in all things fashion and beauty related as well. When people think of 'fashion', they think of trends and catwalks but I'm more interested it in terms of personal style. Whether we like it or not, what we choose to wear expresses something about ourselves. Personal style in an art form to me. I also like the theatrical side to fashion, like the work of Alexander McQueen. Looking at the editorials in Vogue when I was younger was also a form of escapism.

 You successfully managed to marry the two – art/design and fashion with your own unique style in both the mainstream and underground all whilst still giving a very edgy DIY feel. How important is it to you that the DIY empowerment and your personal involvement always remain true?

Its empowering to be able to rely on yourself to get stuff done but its also challenging. However, everything is hard, you've just got to choose what hard you prefer. I'd rather work 15 hours a day 7 days a week than work for someone else. I create for myself first and foremost, so I'd never give up creative control. I know what I make isn't for everyone but I don't intend it to be. When brands gain more mainstream popularity, they tend to water themselves down and lose what made them unique in the first place.

One of my favourite collections of yours was “Ban This”. In your work you’ve addressed slut shaming, censorship, the female body and female sexual expression. How important is it to you to express and address issues through your work?

If there's one common theme that underlies my work it would be 'freedom'. I've always hated being told what to do, with a passion! So it follows naturally that I'm going to be interested in issues where people's freedom is being challenged. Women's autonomy is undermined all the fucking time. I find it funny when people get wound up over a penis or vagina made from sequins.

 There is this real “Ick” or fear factor among a lot of women about owning the word Feminist. Your work is no doubt an expression of modern feminism in everyway. How important is feminism to you and do you identify yourself as a feminist?

Like any movement, Feminism has become susceptible to misconceptions. People make assumptions about what it means to be a Feminist. Yes, sometimes people do act like stereotypes but that doesn't give you the excuse to make generalisations. Its a shame when people's first and only impression of Feminism is through negative stereotypes perpetuated by the media and other closed minded people. Feminism is important to me because it taught me to question ideas that are presented as fact, ideas that disempower me as a human being. It empowered me to take ownership over my life and my body. I definitely identify as a Feminist.

 I’ve followed you online for many years and one of the things I love most about you is your constant support and encouragement of other women and their work which is something we’ve both agreed many times is lacking across many industries. Why do you think there is such a problem today with female competition and anti-comradery and how can we fix this?

Women are brainwashed to see each other as competition. All those shit celebrity magazines baiting us to judge "who wore it best", you don't see men being pitted against each other like that. It makes me cringe so much when women criticise other women for the way they look. Encouraging women to accept themselves for who they are would be a good way to challenge this culture of anti-comradery.

 Who are some of your personal female muses and inspirations and why?

There are so many women I look up, Elsa Schiaparelli, Leonor Fini, Isabella Blow, Dita Von Teese, Courtney Love, Amy Winehouse, Bjork. I'm inspired by women who are unapologetically and uncompromisingly themselves. They're self created and they don't give a fuck.

Female empowerment, fun, sassy and bold are a few words that come to mind when I think of KSW. How would you sum up King Sophie’s World?
I don't actually know how I'd sum up King Sophie's World... I hope I represent people who don't want to conform to the norm and want to be an individual.

 When it comes to your pieces you’ve had lots of public celebrity clients, most notably Gwen Stefani. I mean whoa. How did that happen? And who would you LOVE to collaborate with if you got the chance?

I know... its crazy, she's definitely someone I looked up to when I was younger for having her own unique style, so it was so surreal when I saw her wearing something I'd made! I was approached to commission some pieces, I had no idea they were for her, so it was a massive surprise. I never know how people find me! I'd LOVE to work with Bjork. There's also certain photographers I'd love to work with...

What can we expect from you and King Sophie’s World in 2016?

This is actually the first year I've made a plan... I'm going to release a collection per month and start experimenting with making new accessories and clothes. I want to make bigger and more challenging pieces. In March I'm expanding the custom side to my business which will be exciting. I would really love to start making videos!

Instagram : @kingsophiesworld