“Aggressive, Demure, Feminist.”… Featured on the cover of the ELEMENTS ISSUE - Elliot Joseph Rentz talks fashion, life and Mrs Doubtfire.
What was it that first attracted you to the fashion world and becoming a designer having had no training?
Having a very dramatic and emotional childhood I often found myself using creativity as a form of escapism, allowing me to express myself - whether that was changing my own image, or that of other people. My grandmother had an incredible sense of self style, from extravagant furs to flamboyant hats - She moved all around the world as she raised my mother, always traveling, she spent a good majority of her life modelling and I think some of this fashion background was transferred to me and my childhood. As a young child I always strived to be myself, for many years I wanted to grow up to be Mrs Doubtfire, living in a costume. I wanted to create iconic monsters like Steve Johnson and I was always fascinated by illusions and special effects in film. I found moving towards fashion a very natural progression, it just felt right, being able to pull all my interested together to create something bespoke.
Would you ever consider doing menswear?
I invest all my time and effort into making woman feel beautiful, I take very little interest in my own self image let alone that of other men. It’s not something I am willing to rule out completely, however, for now its unknown territory.
We noticed that there is a distinct progression in looks between your S/S12 collection and designs post this collection, was this a conscious move or development? If so, why? If not, what do you think it was that influenced this change in your creative flow?
I was flown to Istanbul for the European meeting of young designers, a show hosted by ELLE - I was only 16 at the time, having just left home to live in London. As you can imagine, my views and thoughts were twisted and slightly naive and this shows in my past collections. I am growing up and my views are refining, as is my label. It’s just a natural move towards maturity, one I am very comfortable with. I am forever challenging myself in life, my environment seems to change on a regular basis so I’m always on my toes, you can look at any other designers first collection and without knowing, anyone might question who’s work it was. It comes down to maturity, fashion adapts so quickly that we have to grow with it, or be forgotten about.
Is there a particular epoch/era that you would love to explore and live in just for the fashion of the time?
I’m extremely traditional when it comes to my view of beauty and I have always loved the strict image betrayed by our royalty and most powerful iconic women. I personally believe that the women of today have very low self image confidence and we are drifting towards an age that lacks refinement and sophistication. With this in mind I would choose to live in an era in which the female icons took huge pride in their appearance and lived by a strict set of values, creating a classical sense of beauty that others aspire towards.
It is clear with all your designs you add a slight twist to the seemingly picturesque dresses with the addition of masks and spikes - what is it that attracts you to this edgy fashion accessorising?
I try and explore darker subjects and integrate them into my work - I find it keeps things new and interesting. Anyone can put together a collection of work inspired by ‘love’ and ‘flowers’, however personally, i think it’s all been done before. I try to see beauty in things around me, whether they happen to be negative or positive. Whilst my masks may come across as sexual, It’s not something I intended - The pieces from my S/S13 collection are not a reference to fetish wear but were actually inspired by pressure masks worn by burns victims, again looking for the beauty in slightly darker and more unusual places.
In your biography it says that ‘flirting with death’ would be an understatement, do you strive to live your life dangerously or is this only relative to your work?
Life is life, its a different story for everyone, if I can translate my thoughts and imaginations into something beautiful, something that can inspire others to think differently then I have accomplished my main goal. my work is a large factor of my life and all my emotions are invested in it heavily.
What do you think of your work being on the front cover of SYN, the ELEMENTS Issue?
Over the past year I’ve reached some of my personal goals with campaigns, clients and publications. Although I will forever remember SYN as the first publication to feature my work on a cover. I’m honoured to have created a piece which others view as worthy of a front cover.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Elliot Joseph Rentz as a label, aggressive, demure and feminist.
Are you inspired by other creative outlets, e.g. film, music, photography?
I shoot all my films as its the strongest way I can translate my views into something others can view. Music of course comes into play when producing my work as does photography.
Where do you see yourself and your designs in 5 years time?
I don’t know, every season my life seems to change, for the better or worse - I’lI simply keep doing what I love and striving to achieve more - then I’ll see where it takes me.
Interview by Zoe Wiszniewska / firstname.lastname@example.org