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Fred [London] Ltd - Contemporary Art Gallery Artists, African Contemporary Art, Fred Mann,


starts: 14 Nov 2012

ends: 24 Nov 2012

Paul Bernstock and Thelma Speirs met whilst studying Fashion/Textiles at Middlesex University. In 1982, inspired by the underground club & music scene, they began making hats and established the label Bernstock Speirs. Challenging traditional ideas of millinery they seduced a new generation of hat wearers with their witty, fashionable and innovative style.

Today, the spirit of the brand remains vibrant and youthful. Bernstock Speirs hats are sporty, fashion-forward and unique. They use unconventional fabrics and techniques and are committed to sourcing materials and production in the UK.

To mark the occasion they are celebrating with a showcase of their work from the past three decades at Fred (London) Ltd.

The exhibition will include some of their iconic pieces presented in large scale multi-format, working drawings, look books and brochures featuring celebrity clients including French & Saunders, Miranda Richardson, Bananarama, Jimmy Somerville and Courtney Pine. Also being shown are two Bernstock Speirs hat films made in the late 1980’s by the artist Isaac Julien.

A limited edition print and a special edition Bunny Cap will be exclusively available at the gallery.

Designer collaborations include: Peter Jensen, Richard Nicoll, House of Holland, Louise Gray, Emma Cook, The Rodnik Band, Erin Fetherston, Lou Dalton, Agnes B. and Jean-Paul Gaultier.

International Stockists include: Liberty, Dover Street Market (UK). Colette, Le Bon Marche (France). Penelope (Italy). Elite (Spain). 10 Corso Como (Korea). Tsventnoy Central Market (Russia). Opening Ceremony (US). The Standard Store (Australia). Isetan, Beams, DSM Ginza (Japan).

The exhibitions includes two Bernstock Speirs hat films made in the 1980s by Isaac Julien (courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro Gallery, London).

Here he answers questions about his relationship with Bernstock Speirs:

Q. How did you first meet Thelma and Paul?
A. I met Paul before Thelma, I think, but it was really through clubs and going to the Embassy in Old Bond Street in 1979-1980. This was where we met Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger on the dancefloor and where I realised that I wanted to become an artist. Dencil Williams and Paul used to dance together, mainly to Grace Jones (Dencil was a sort of Grace Jones look-a-like then). We became friends and when I started at St. Martins, they were at Middlesex Polytechnic, so it was the Art School-Club connection. I met Thelma at Gibson Square in Islington, where they lived most of the time.

Q. What was it about them and their work that interested you to create films for them?
A. Well naturally their fantastic designs! In the early 80s things were much more loose and inter-disciplinary. The boundaries between fashion, art, film and disco culture were much more fluid. But I was very much involved in the exploration of both Super-8 film and new video and I saw these things being a cross between video art works and fashion but infused with a fine-art approach.

Q. How did you approach the concept or ideas behind the film?
A. It was fairly improvised but the styling was very important: the make up which was very considered and the lighting by Nina Kellgren. We had a pop, scratch and video art approach to editing the film. We were inspired by collaboration, club culture and high fashion; life and art were intertwined on the dance floor in the film-making/ideas process.

Q. Can you remember shooting it? Was it fun? Any interesting anecdotes?
A. Yes, it was fun. I can remember Paul saying ‘I think there will be a few Brazilian boys that you will enjoy filming’. I did and I think that Nina Kellgren, who shot the work, enjoyed filming them as well!

Q. How does it feel looking back now at the film considering how things have changed for you and your career?
A. Well, I think the way the film has art and fashion intersecting was prophetic. Look at the relationship between fashion brands and contemporary art these days. When we did it, it happened much more organically. We were working with our friends.

Fred [London] Ltd
17 Riding House Street, London, W1W 7DS
Winter hours:
Tuesday - Friday 10-6, Saturday 11-6
or by appointment
e: info@fred-london.com
t: +44 (0)207 323 0344
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Fred [London] Ltd Gallery - Black Bunny Hat by Paul Bernstock and Thelma Speirs

Fred [London] Ltd Gallery - Bernstock Speirs 30 Years by Paul Bernstock and Thelma Speirs

Fred [London] Ltd Gallery - Jane Asher by Bernstock Speirs

Fred [London] Ltd Gallery - French and Saunders by Bernstock Speirs

Fred [London] Ltd Gallery - Caryn Franklin by Bernstock Speirs

Fred [London] Ltd Gallery - Jimmy Somerville by Bernstock Speirs

Fred [London] Ltd Gallery - Bananarama by Bernstock Speirs