French designer Anne-Sophie Cochevelou‘s makes wearable art. Known for her use of toys and upcycled materials, her work makes a bold statement and is a celebration of unique individuality. You may have heard that less is more, but for Anne-Sophie, more is definitely more, with her extravagant designs being modelled by the likes of Girli, Grace Neutral, Jamie Windust, TeTe Bang and more.
Her latest collection of face masks, developed during lockdown, takes Anne-Sophie’s signature playful aesthetic and transfers it the humble mask, which has now risen as an essential accessory. As part of this collection, Anne-Sophie collaborated with photographer Anthony Lycett and makeup artist Luke Harris, on a portrait series featuring her sci-fi inspired masks, blurring lines between gender and non-binary, human and the extraterrestrial.
Hey Anne-Sophie, can you tell us how long have you been a designer, have you always been interested in fashion and wearable art?
I have been an independent fashion costume and accessories designer since I graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2013. Since childhood I have made stuff with objects, I found in car boot sale as it is a passion I share with my Mum. So naturally in my practice I have always included upcycled material or discarded toys. With my theatre background I liked to see clothes as performance and create an art piece that you can at the same time exhibit in your house or wear on yourself to look absolutely fabulous.
What made you want to take up making masks during lockdown?
At the beginning of lockdown, all my jobs started to be cancelled and lot of commissions fell through. I started masks as a personal project but I realised they was an interest from my customers so I started selling them on my online shop. We also developed our Quarantine project with Anthony Lycett photographing a wearable art mask a day with a different theme and matching make up.
How did this collaboration with Anthony and Luke come about? What was the inspiration behind this feature collection?
I was in lockdown with Anthony as we are partner in life & in crime so I was basically the only person he could photograph!
Anthony photographed Luke before for his Self Styled project and we are both big fan of his avant garde looks. We also wanted to play on the fact that Luke is bold and we wanted him to make me look like him with a bald cap and blur the line between gender and create a kind of non binary alien twin look.
The idea was to create a dystopian futuristic story, a post Corona world where we all have to wear masks and they become an extension of our body. For this mask I wanted to apply the retro futuristic aesthetic like a post modern Barbarella dressed by Pacco Rabanne with a twist.
Your masks are such beautiful and intricate pieces, how long does it take you to design and make a mask?
The very intricate ones like pearl masks can take several hours as every pearls is hand stitched one by one and I have to think of the position every time according to the different size in order to create a dynamic effect. Putting up the elastic on the side is also quite tine consuming as they have to be hand-stitched as it won’t go through the machine with all the ornaments. The simple ones can take an hour but the most complex one could take the all day.
What’s been your favourite mask to make so far? Which is your favourite to wear?
Honestly they are all so different. They are all made with love so there is none I do not like. However, my favourite are the sci-fi one as they are really detailed and I had to develop new making techniques and get out of my comfort zone to come up with the final result. I would say my favourite to wear is the lips mask as it basically reconstitutes a missing part of the face and really make people smile.
Who would be your dream client to design a bespoke mask for?
This is an obvious one but Lady Gaga. Some people thought I made the one she wore at the VMA which were absolutely stunning. She really showed to the world that day that you could be extremely stylish and wear a mask.
Do you think that masks will become a permanent addition to our accessories? What do you see happening with the future of fashion?
I think we will be wearing masks until we find a vaccine so because we will be stuck with them for a while why not making them more stylish and less anxiety provoking. In the New Normal, people will match their mask with their outfit and it will be the mew hit accessory of this winter on the same level as hat or scarf.
Regarding fashion in general, I think the industry need to drastically change, be more sustainable, create less waste. Maybe we don’t need fashion week, fast fashion, to work around seasonal collection produced by underpaid worker in Bangladesh. I have been able to cope and adapt with this crisis because I work from home and source all my material locally and use lot of reclaimed stuff.
Photography – Anthony Lycett
Masks and Styling – Anne-Sophie Cochevelou
Make up – Luke Harris using Graftobian and Inglot
Words – Genea Bailey