photography by SARAH ST CLAIR RENARD

An interview with Nicole Walker

Written by Weronika Pérez Borjas by Michaela Widergren

Bread and Butter

It’s a rainy Stockholm afternoon when I knock on the door at Nicole Walker’s little studio on Södermalm. She spots me through the window and welcomes me into what she calls a chamber of creative chaos. Nicole, a stylist known from numerous editorials and collaborations with such renowned brands as Cheap Monday, Weekday, Minna Palmqvist and Carin Wester, seems eager to submerge into the world of visual ideas. And even though she is in the middle of visionary struggle, I feel like I’m entering into a parallel reality reigned by harmonic aesthetics.

Nicole Walker and Swedish singer El Perro del Mar invite you to step into their artistic bubble already on Tuesday, the 19th of May. Their project Bread and Butter will open Appartamento III- an artistic event held through three evenings at Konstnärshuset in Stockholm. This series of creative collaborations between the world of art, fashion and music, sponsored by Peroni, will take place from 19th - 21st of May.

WPB: Hi Nicole! Could you please reveal a little bit about what’s going to happen at Appartamento?

NW: The whole idea has to do with visualising El Perro del Mar’s music. I’ve followed and liked her songs for a long time and a vision about embodying them in clothes and objects gradually grew on me. When we finally met, we discovered that we had a lot in common and that my concept really goes hand in hand with the music from her newest album. We created an aesthetic that represents the coming CD and I styled for her video. The exhibition you will see at Appartamento is bringing out the parts of the video into a gallery space and inviting the viewer to take a step into El Perro del Mar’s reality.

WPB: What kind of connection do you two have in your creative process? In what ways do you complement each other?

NW: We share a lot of inspiration sources and search for similar stimuli. I think we also have another very important feature: we both constantly challenge ourselves to try something new, find out new ways of making art and boarding on projects we haven’t tried out ever before.

WPB: What was the newest and most challenging part of this project for you?

NW: I’ve worked with musicians before, but never in that dimension. One of the challenges was to coherently combine all the inspirations with integrity. We were interpreting such different references; for instance Japanese wedding costumes, Swedish folk dresses, tribal motifs or flower decoration such as in Natural Fashion by Hans Silvester. It felt really sensible, since this kind of clothing is very charged. It is intrinsically bounded by the culture from which it comes. I didn’t want my interpretation to appropriate these meanings in an abusive way. Instead I chose to think of it as a free interpretation, something that by combining different themes it became my own thing.

WPB: El Perro del Mar and you work on two different poles of art- the musical and the visual. What was your key to unite them and embody the music?

NW: We voted for an abstract visualisation, where everything has a context and a meaning, but at the same time leaves a margin for free interpretation. I personally believe that Perro’s music can touch the imagination in many ways- by her lyrics or by her way of developing ideas. She’s been inspired by different types of folk music. I focused on embodying this in my costumes. We tried to imagine a free world with no borders between countries and cultures, where you could freely take the best of all the cultures and combine it in one.

WPB: What about the title, ’’Bread and Butter’’? It sounds quite casual, but your project talks a lot about finding a perfect aesthetic.

NW: Bread and Butter is the title of Perro’s upcoming single and the song talks just about that: how we all actually need so little to live and be happy. It praises the basics, like bread and butter, in contrast with the extreme consumption we tend to live in. The main goal of the exhibition is also to raise questions about the materialism and beauty ideals. Materialism is a great part of our existence, but in our project we chose to contrast the material and the organic. We tried to come back to the basic rule of life: we are all born in the same way, no matter whether it is here or there, on the other side of the globe. This simplicity makes it so beautiful: we are all the same, yet different in so many ways.

WPB: It’s quite tricky to talk about materialism in context of work in fashion industry…

NW: Yes, I am constantly conscious of it and that is why I am trying to take a critical stand towards it. As much as I love fashion and working as a stylist, I am trying to find my own way of making a difference. I am not into consuming goods in the extreme way myself, and I am positive about changing people’s attitudes towards consumption through fashion, art or music. I am always looking forward to new way of exploring fashion and arts, like in my project Maze, where I present upcoming designers. I love weaving fashion and art together and believe that fashion is and should be a form of art. My collaboration with El Perro del Mar is a great occasion to present my personal stands about the issue.

WPB: It sounds almost a little bit political…

NW: A little bit, but we try to keep our views abstractly intertwined with the visual part. After all, what we want most is to talk through our aesthetics. That’s why we invite everyone to come into this visual reality on Tuesday!

photography by MARCUS PALMQUST