Downtown darling Mandy Coon has a knack for balancing a hard rocker edge with glints of feminine mystique. For spring, Coon – who not only used to be a DJ but studied music production before launching her line in 2009 – combined her love of leather, organic forms, and electro beats in a dynamic spring collection. The designer was inspired to work with MIDI files, the digital language that allows instruments and computers to communicate with each other. Coon’s friend Pontus Winnberg of the band Miike Snow showed his support by writing a song for the designer. She turned the digital translation of the tune into prints on her silk dresses, skirts, and tops and sliced it into leather and metal belts. Furthermore, Winnberg’s contribution served as the soundtrack for the show.
Harnesses, snakeskin embossed leather, and a giant version of the designer’s signature “Bunny Bag” felt decidedly Coon, while sculptural leather bustier tops and skirts that seemingly blossomed around the models were elegant, artful expressions of the designer’s dark approach to beauty. Here, Coon talks to ARTINFO about her musical influences, her romantic side, and her ideal spring woman.
What was the concept behind this collection?
I was talking with a friend of mine and we were getting really geeky about music. In a previous incarnation, I had studied music production and she was saying that I should do something with MIDI files. I had never really thought of appropriating music in that way so I started thinking about making it into a print so that’s where that started. Then I started talking to friends about giving me MIDI files and Pontus said, “I want to make you something that’s yours that you can use in the show.”
What was the biggest challenge in turning these digital files into something really beautiful?
Well, I always use something really organic or having to do with nature but I actually started out with just the music files in the beginning and then I was feeling like that was a little cold for me. I started thinking about Fibonacci sequences and they’re kind of all related so once I incorporated the two, it really felt like me.
Can you talk to us about what went into creating those petal pieces?
You know, I really like playing with proportions and shapes and exaggerating things. I feel like there’s a romantic side of me that’s also kind of weird and dark and the petal pieces express that. It was like sculpting. I really like that stuff, using my hands.
What were you listening in the studio when you were designing this collection?
I was listening to a lot of things but I’ve been obsessed with this song “Tenth Planet” by Solid Space. It’s an old song. I don’t know why but I’ve been listening to it all the time and it sounds really sad but then it’s super optimistic. It kind of feels like if somebody in the ’50s was writing a song about the future and it’s really powerful for me.
How would you describe your spring woman?
I tried to think about daytime as well as night because once I start getting into designing, I tend to want to do the big pieces, which are more evening, so I wanted to think about the fact that this girl’s working too. What is she going to wear over there? But I’d like to think that it’s not just the cool downtown girl. I’d like to think it’s also the crazy 80-year-old lady with pink hair in the East Village who has lipstick on her cheeks and is wearing Comme des Garcons. I love that lady. I want to be that lady.
Click on the slide show to see looks from Mandy Coon’s spring 2013 collection.
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