EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH
FASHION DESIGNER TOM REBL
TOM REBL * spring / summer 2009 *
Photo TOM REBL - S/S 2009 Luca Rossetti
AngelDevil: Even though you are a young fashion designer you already have a very interesting portfolio. Where do you find inspiration for your creations and how do you bring ‘em to life?
Tom: Thanks for the flowers... Creativity is hard to define and to describe. It is a talent, which is part of your personality. I am a Sagittarius and it is my nature to be adventurous, fearless and curious. And this brought me to some interesting places in the world and made me gain some great experiences. It is life that inspires me. Although it sounds a bit tacky, but that’s how it is. I am like a big sponge absorbing all the information and impressions around me every day. Today at this day, I came across Giger, the guy who invented Alien, who I find very inspiring. And who knows what’s inspiring me tomorrow, next month or next year?
AngelDevil: Can you tell us if there has been a moment in your career when bringing to life one of your creations has been really laborious or difficult?
Tom: I remember some years ago while I was still studying at Central Saint Martins in London, I got the chance to design an outfit for Kate Moss for London Fashion Week. During the fitting with her, I was so nervous to not say stupid things, to look cool and to get the fitting over as good as possible. While I was pinning and adjusting the jacket, I cut a whole into the fabric. I didn’t have enough time and fabric to re-do the whole jacket, so I had to invent this huge fabric flower and bow, which Kate in the end really loved.
AngelDevil: How long have you been living in Italy?
Tom: About 3,5 years ago. I moved from London to take over the creative lead at Andrew MacKenzie. This was a very important step in my career and I am very happy to be where I am today. But at the time it was a huge culture shock moving from London, where I lived for seven years, to the Italian province, where I spent most of my time in laboratories and factories in the beginning. Oh, and the only words in Italian I knew were “ciao” and “ti amo”…
AngelDevil: Is there any difference between Italian fashion concept and the other countries’ one?
Tom: Every country, yet every city has its own style and expression. It is always a reflection of the people living in the city. London is demographically very different from for example Milan or Paris. For me, designing is a creative output, which reflects very much also my current mood. This means, that my surroundings have a great impact on my creativity. It would be actually a very interesting project to see, what the spring/summer 2009 collection would have looked like while I was living in Paris or New York and not Milan…
AngelDevil: Which of your creations best reflects your style ideas?
Tom: This is not that simple to answer. I cannot pick just one creation, design or even collection. Being a designer means constant change and development. Once I have finished a collection, I am eager to start something new. For the spring/summer 2009 collection, for instance, I worked a lot with dying techniques like dying, and tie-dye, which involved lots of cotton. Then the following fall/winter 2009-10 collection is completely different in choice of materials and finish. You can still clearly see my handwriting in the collection, but the process of creating was very different. There is still a lot of experimentation with new materials and treatments. I developed a new ironing and pressing technique on velvet to give it a lived-in vintage character.
My passion or “credo” is to experiment with fabrics and to develop new finishes, which make an otherwise normal pair of trousers a very distinguishable pair of TOM REBL trousers.
AngelDevil: I was reading one of yours interview some time ago and I have been very impressed by the idea of “high hills and manhood”. Which is the message you want to communicate with this motto?
Tom: Thank you for bringing up this topic. My intention is to bring people or clients to listen to themselves and to find the balance with their inner self. This is something very individual. And individuality is what fashion is about, or – at least – what it should be about.
It is the conformity, which is sudden death for any creativity. Nowadays, big labels transport a very strong image, to which people are attracted and want to buy into. But by buying certain brands, they think they also buy the personality, which they actually don’t. It is the actual wearer who brings clothes alive and who gives it some personality.
Why should a man not wear a skirt? Or high heels? Or a dress? It is the conformity of our culture, which makes a man in heels look odd. And it is still a very long way until reach the day, when everyone is free in the way they think and dress without any judgment. But I will put my heels on again next weekend and continue the fight!!
AngelDevil: We often see a fusion between high fashion and music. Fashion designers recreated rock stile following their beliefs and their ideas. Observing your creations, I would say you are a proto-punk, glam rock fashion designer…what do you think ‘bout that?
Tom: This is the rebel in Tom Rebl. I am an indie kid. I grew up with indie, crossover and grunge. It was all about being different, free and rebellious. And this is still a very strong part in me. I like to provoke and to cross existing borders. Inevitably, this also reflects in my work and personal lifestyle. So I guess you are right to call me a “contemporary” glam rocker…
AngelDevil: Which one between Iggy Pop, New York Dolls and David Bowie would be the perfect model for your fashion creations?
Tom: This is clearly David Bowie. I would love to go on tour with him and design the outfits for it. It is about time for the return of Ziggy Stardust. Oh my god, this would be amazing!!
I am listening to his music since I am 15. During my teenage years I got to know him and his music in more depth. Already then he influenced me musically when I was still playing in a band. Today it is more his persona that fascinates me – and the fact the he is sexually absolutely fulfilled…
AngelDevil: How do you choose the models for your runaways or for your photo-shoots?
Tom: I need to have a special feeling about a model. I like to know my models before I work with them. There needs to be a certain personality and a bond with me, my work and my spirit. That’s why I hate to work with model agencies, especially with international ones, where you can’t meet the model before or when there is not a lot of time for castings.
And that’s the reason, I guess, why my models don’t always correspond with the current model trends.
AngelDevil: If you could name a band and a fashion designer that you admire the most, who would they be?
Tom: Queen / Freddie Mercury for his drama and incredible lust for life. (Freddie actually spent a great part of his life in Munich/Germany – where I am from. And some of my older friends there still tell the crazy stories about him.) David Bowie / Ziggy Stardust for the creation of his alter ego… They are geniuses not only musically but also their style influenced and still influences generations. Compared to Freddie and David you can forget about Madonna!!
My absolute icon in the world of fashion has to be Karl Lagerfeld. Also he is a genius in his own twisted world with incredible impact in the fashion industry.
AngelDevil: Talking about music, I heard you played in a band. Do you still have some time to play your guitar or you gave up playing?
Tom: Every now and then, when I am around friends we are jamming together.
But just recently I went to see a gig of Thunderville, with my favourite model and friend Roby Tini as frontman. Right then I felt the urge to go on stage and play live. It is a similar feeling I get when I have a fashion show. It is when you let out something very personal to the public, no matter if it is your very personal lyrics and music or your fashion creations. These are moments of complete vulnerability.
AD: Which are the best creations among the ones of your spring/summer 2009 and fall/winter 2010 collections?
Tom: For this summer, the must-have is an unlined linen-cotton mix washed jacket. Too easy to be cool. Actually for winter 09-10, midnight blue is the new black. And midnight blue velvet smoking jacket finished off with my new ironing and pressing technique will be the hot stuff.
AngelDevil: What comes first, innovation or functionality?
Tom: Form follows function. Comfort and function is very important to me. It just doesn’t make sense to me to design beautiful things, which are only beautiful. This is the thin line between being a designer and an artist. A designer needs to fulfil the needs of the customer. An artist can do fuck all.
AngelDevil: Last question, what is your dream: endless inspiration, innovative fabrics…or what else?
Tom: It is my dream that I continue to love what I am doing, that my work makes me happy and that it fulfils me until I am really really old…
AngelDevil: Thanks for your availability, it has been a pleasure!
TOM REBL * fall/winter 2009-10 * PREVIEW
Photo TOM REBL - F/W 2009-10 Lorenzo Marcucci