British designer Giles Deacon is one of fashion's brightest burning stars. The former head designer at Bottega Veneta and Gucci, whose eponymous line, GILES, launched in 2004, has crafted haute modern couture for some of the world's most recognizable names. Stars like Scarlett Johansson, Cate Blanchett, and Pippa Middleton—whose Deacon-conceptualized wedding dress made headlines in 2017—are all well-known devotees of the designer. This summer, the artist and designer can add a new credit to his already impressive resume: author.
GILESSØLVEKATIE, which went on sale June 28 from Laurence King Press, highlights the designer's 15-year collaboration with Norwegian-born, London-based photographer Sølve Sundsbø and powerhouse stylist/editor Katie Grand. Grand, as Editor in Chief of LOVE, and the woman responsible for launching Dazed & Confused, AnOther Magazine and POP, has shaped the fashion media landscape for decades; as a stylist, she has lent her prodigious talents to Louis Vuitton, Jonathan Saunders and Emanuel Ungaro (among others). Sundsbø, as both a photographer and filmmaker, is known for his surrealist and color-saturated ultra-femme images, which have graced the pages of Vogue, Interview and i-D, and advertisements by blue-chip brands such as Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Hermes, and Givenchy. The book, which contains extensive interviews, breathtaking imagery, and behind-the-scenes commentary, examines not only the trio's creative process but a particular moment in British fashion when the world's eyes turned to London and its daring innovators.
In addition to showcasing supermodels like Linda Evangelista and Stephanie Seymour, the book also highlights commentary from fashion-world insiders, proving not just a stunning coffee table book but also a primer text for anyone who enjoys the craft of fashion.
A true labor of love for Deacon, the book's genesis came from an exploration of his past work.
“I was looking through my archive, and was going back a few years and started pulling out all the work Sølve had done," the designer explained to DEPARTURES. "The images were so great, involving so many fantastic people, that I thought 'let’s make it into a book!' And so began a three-year odyssey."
Deacon believes the uniqueness of GILESSØLVEKATIE is owed in large part to the twenty-year friendship, and later working relationship, between a fashion designer, a stylist and a photographer—allowing for a rare, multi-faceted view of the creative process.
"So many fashion books are about an amalgamation of many [tastes], whereas this is purely about us," he continued. "We have a very special way of working, in the sense that it is very intuitive, quick, precise and fun. There is no 'client' to please, so creatively, we are very free."
When discussing the book's many illustrious images, it's difficult for Deacon to choose favorites, but a few standout: a cover with Elise Crombez and a group portrait taken in Deacon's London studio with Linda Evangelista, Karen Elson, Erin O'Connor, Raquel Zimmermann, Karolína Kurková, Missy Rayder, and Mariacarla Boscono. "Quite a lineup for a shot which took twenty minutes to take!"
A look to the past, the book has also allowed Deacon to gaze at the future's promise. He believes one of the most exciting things about fashion now is the ability that brands have to help empower artists to attain more creative freedom: "They work to their own rhythm outside of the previous, conventional fashion calendar and system."
The trio hopes to continue to collaborate and are currently planning a shoot for autumn in the British countryside, an exciting challenge since much of their previous work was shot in-studio. They are also in talks with a major museum regarding a traveling photo exhibition through China.
Currently, Deacon is working on costumes for the New York City Ballet Fall Gala in September, called “CHOREOGRAPHY AND COUTURE,” as well as a selection of private client couture pieces and new items for his ‘ELECTRONIC SHOP," the latter of which, like the enigmatic designer himself, remain something of a compelling mystery.