A couple of decades is a long time in fashion but acclaimed Newcastle designer and costumier Paul Shriek is relishing the chance to return to the catwalk after a long time away.
For the past few months, the one-time ‘enfant terrible’ of the 80s fashion industry has been back among his haute couture roots, designing and creating an autumn and winter 14/15 collection which will be unveiled at a show in July.
The event will offer the first public outing for Paul’s relatively recent collaboration with Matt Fox, a fine art graduate from Sunderland, who has brought digital design sensibilities into the creative mix, to striking effect. The pair, who have christened themselves Fox and Shriek, will be making their catwalk debut – or at least their creations will be – at an invitation-only event on July 17 in Newcastle.
Speaking from his studio, which is based at his Jesmond home, Paul, 55, says: “Working with Matt has given me a whole new insight and vision for realising the potential of original research into stunning, dramatic haute couture that will make real women feel extraordinary.
“Very quickly after we met at a party, it was clear to me that we clicked in terms of our working processes and the way we thought about things. It was quite striking actually and has opened up a whole new set of possibilities for me because I come from an age where there weren’t even mobile phones.
“Matt often looks at me as if to say ‘are you for real’ when I ask questions,” he laughs.
In the world of fashion design in the 80s, the new Paul Shriek label was synonymous with outrageous statement clothing. Fresh out of Newcastle Polytechnic, Paul was snapped up by Topshop, with his concession becoming one of the best selling in the UK for the high street brand.
In the 33 years which have passed since, Paul’s fashion fortunes have seen him owning his own shop, lecturing on a national fashion course and being a style consultant on the infamous and Newcastle-based Channel Four music show, The Tube.
But the past decade has seen him focus seriously on his first love, the theatre, where he has been immersed in costume design for major theatrical and dance companies such as Welsh National Opera, Scottish Dance Theatre, the National Dance Company of Wales and The Ballet Boyz as well as the pantomimes at the Customs House, South Shields.
It was while Paul was working in the theatre that he was introduced to Matt and they began collaborating.
Working together on fabric print ideas for a commission to costume Scheherazade for the National Dance Company of Wales offered the ‘light bulb’ moment that resulted in the Fox and Shriek label.
“I’ve had enormous success in both the fashion and theatre industries,” Paul says, “and I know how to make clothes that create the ‘wow’ factor on stage. I’m always looking for new ways to strengthen, develop and define my creative pathway.
“Our collaboration has given me the encouragement to, basically, go back to my roots and deliver an autumn/winter collection that will be the last word in glamour,” he promises.
Matt, 27, adds: “Anybody who has met Paul knows that he is a force to be reckoned with. He takes no prisoners.
“Our collaboration has enabled my knowledge and experience to thrive, allowing me to experiment and develop skills and creative ideas within an industry very different from the fine art background I trained in.
“We’re now looking to break boundaries for our creative vision and are both excited about the new autumn/winter collection.”
The show, which will be held at the City Tavern in Newcastle, will be a tribute to the glamour of suspense and the immortality of classic Hollywood screen sirens, with the particular muses for the collection being Tippi Hedren in Alfred Hitchcock’s suspenseful thrillers Marnie (1964) and The Birds (1963).
Paul says: “We have reinvented the ‘classic silhouettes’ inspired by costume designer Edith Head from 1959 to 1964 and combined them with digital prints to evoke an ‘homage’ to the movies we have selected.
“We’ll be dressing the girls in front of everybody to give the feeling of being in the wings of a show and watching the performers getting ready. It will be very theatrical and intimate.”
And it will be a case of what you see is what you can get. There’ll be approximately 40 outfits being shown on the night... and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
“It’s not our intention to mass produce this stuff,” says Paul. “What we wanted to do with the show was to say ‘in the North East there is a design team that does this’. If you want ‘that jacket, but in green’ then tough!”
Entry to the show From Marnie to Monster at the City Tavern on July 17 is by invitation only. If you’d really like to be invited, you could try contacting Paul and Matt via www.foxandshriek.com
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