Cora Keegan photographed by Jason Lee Parry. Styling by Paul Bui. CAMP S/S 2014
Neneh Cherry and i-D have a longstanding friendship. When i-D was in its infancy, Cherry was on hand helping publishers Terry and Tricia Jones staple the early issues together. Since then the Swedish chanteuse has had quite a colourful career. In her teens, Cherry dropped out of middle school in New York City to return to London and front several punk bands. Alongside immersing herself in the Bristol drum and bass scene (legend has it she helped bankroll Massive Attack), Cherry carved her own solo path with her lauded debut album Raw like Sushi. The lead single Buffalo Stance would go on to capture the style of the time, embodying the spirit of Ray Petri’s ingenious fashion house. Two more albums soon followed, as well as Cherry lending her voice to several collaborations (including tracks with Pulp, Cher and Gorillaz). But it’s been 18 years since the last solo record. i-D catches up with our old friend to ask why the long pause?
You’ve had a very worldly upbringing. Which place feels most like home - New York, London or Sweden?
I think they’re very different connections. In London I’m always going to go there for the creative source. I have my tribe there. I miss New York like I miss an old lover. I think once that city has gotten under your skin it’s hard to let go. I use it a lot as a landscape when I’m writing lyrics. And then Sweden – that still is my family home. It’s a place that doesn’t really change that much. That’s the kind of heartbeat.
This is your first solo record in 18 years. Why the extended pause?
To tell you the honest truth, I don’t really know why. It’s not that I can’t be specific, but I just know that I’m here now more than ever. You know, I’ve been working, I’ve been writing, I’ve been doing stuff, but I suppose I just wasn’t in a place where I really was able to release something … it just wasn’t time. I took a left turn and I chose to come off the treadmill, and here we are.
Four Tet produced this new album and Robyn makes an appearance. What was it like working with them?
Robyn is a beautiful goddess and I love her very dearly. We had a fantastic day when we did the track in her studio in Stockholm. Working with Four Tet was also really amazing. He has a very pure way of recording music. I wouldn’t say puritanical by pure, I mean that he just wants to go in and capture what’s happening there in the moment rather than layering something up fifty million times and bypassing the original spirit of the record.
And what exactly is that spirit?
Well the new record is a series of ten songs that I’ve written – some just by myself, and some with Cameron McVey and Paul Simm who I did a whole writing spell with. It’s very fierce but connected into the ground. It’s tough, beautiful, it’s kind of organic but it’s also roughneck electronics.
Your classic hit Buffalo Stance is such an iconic song; do you ever get sick of getting requests to perform it?
If I were forced into being in a karaoke relationship with my old songs, where I didn’t have other things going on, maybe it would be difficult. But to me they’re just wonderful little gems of my life. I really have to appreciate that they still carry on and that people are still interested in listening to them.
That Buffalo aesthetic, championed by you, Ray Petri and his collaborators in the late 80s is still very relevant today. It was a big influence on designers, stylists and magazines like i-D. What was it like being part of that scene?
We were all really good friends. I remember Ray and myself put together a gang of Buffalos to go on a freeform modelling trip to Japan that was quite nutty. Ray was really someone that made me look at myself, and taught me in a very natural way about style. In a video that Mark Lebonwas shooting, he put me in an Azzedine Alaia dress with trainers, and I was like “Yeah, this feels kind of good!” It was a style based in something that I recognized and knew. That’s why I still think it’s timeless, it’s classic – it’s the street.
Did you know you were a part of something special while it was happening?
I think during times when things are going on, you don’t sit around agonizing or analysing the fragments of what it’s about. You’re just doing it. It was really a time where it was about breaking down the boundaries and it was quite - may I say - revolutionary, without us knowing or thinking about it in that way. But it [Buffalo] was a bit like “Up yours! I’m just gonna get up and get on with this and unload.”
Do you find that over the years you’ve acquired a whole new audience for your music?
I hope so, and I hope that I’ll continue to make new friends through music. It’s difficult for some people because I’ve always changed a lot, without trying to. I suppose that I’m always following slightly different threads. But if you listen to what I’m doing now, I think there’s energy of other things that I’ve done. It isn’t Buffalo Stance or Seven Seconds; it’s a new sound but I hope it reaches new people.
Text Paul Bui
Photography Mark Lebon
Styling Judy Blame
Hair Johnnie Sapong at Jed Root
using Leonor Greyl
Make-up Camila Fernandez using YSL
Nail technician Marie Isabel at the Book Agency using Chanel autumn/winter 12 and Body Excellence Hand Cream
Photography assistance Catalin Plesa, Rory Cole, Maxwell Tomlinson,
Liam Hart, Pedro Paz Lopez
Hair assistance Ranelle Chapman
Post production Cat the Man
Backstage photography Tom Ryling
Special thanks to Maud Kealey
Photography by Petra Collins
Words & Styling by Paul Bui
On a beautiful sunny day in Miami I catch up with Lily Cole as G-Star prepares to announce her as the new face of their upcoming campaign. Upon meeting her, I’m greeted with that heart shaped face and flaming hair that was so prevalent in the 2000s when the fashion world was enamored with a Pre-Raphaelite look. It’s a face that blazed magazine covers the world over and ruled runways from Cacharel to Chanel. But Lily Cole is not your typical model. The British beauty has certainly had a phenomenal career – first in fashion, then in film. Yet it’s the technology realm that she’s seeking to conquer with an endeavor that’s as altruistic as it is pragmatic.
“I actually feel weirdly most connected to the technology world right now,” she tells me when I ask if she still has a strong relationship with fashion. “But I don’t feel married to any one world and I quite like that. I still have lots of friends I collaborate with in fashion. And I go into the film world obviously for work. But technology has increasingly become a more political world. I feel I cross-pollinate between them and they cross pollinate one another because there’s an underlying intention that can be seen in all of them.”
The technology that Cole is talking about stems from an idea she had in university. The premise was to build an online social network that fosters a kind of cultural giving and receiving. Users can post things they would like help with or things that they can do, and then the platform reveals people who either live nearby or people they already know who have the skills that match this need. It’s a simple yet clever concept, which has already been rolled out in England under the domain Impossible.com. Similar to Wikipedia (whose founder Jimmy Wales is helping Cole on the project), Impossible.com is based on the model of a gift economy.
“We have to keep making it better, and spreading the word and making the community stronger and more responsible. But overwhelmingly we’ve had a very positive reception to it and people are actually using it now in London. I’ve heard quite a few happy stories in the last week of it helping people.” What are these happy stories? “Little things mostly. A friend of mine who is a screenwriter offered very last minute to host a workshop. We put it on Impossible.com – within 12 hours we had a room full of 20 to 30 people, and he gave a free workshop to them talking about screenwriting. It was awesome. And while I was there I met a girl who came up to me after, she was chatting to me, and was like ‘I’ve got to run, sorry, but I’m giving someone a tour of London through Impossible’ – somebody had wished for a tour of London and she’d offered to do it. It was very sweet.”
As sweet and simple as it may seem, Cole has spent the last two years working on this project. It’s difficult to imagine many models having the patience and intuition to develop such a philanthropic platform. But Cole is different. Even when she was discovered at the age of 14, walking around Soho in London, the idea of quitting school to travel the world modelling was never an option. “I was a bit tentative about it [modelling] at first but then I got into it and even in my active years – probably 15, 16, 17 and 18 – I was always studying. I was quite geeky so it just landed itself that way.”
In her formative years, Cole worked with some of the world’s most renowned fashion photographers from Steven Meisel to Irving Penn. Her distinct doll face landed her campaigns with Chanel, Hermes and Longchamp, all the while fronting covers for <i>Vogue<i>, <i>Numero<i> and <i>Interview<i>. While modelling allowed her to travel the world and reap new experiences, Cole has always had a strong interest in the arts. Her mother was an artist and drama had always been one of Cole’s favorite subjects at school; acting seemed like the natural transition. “I think there are things from modelling that have helped me with acting on a very practical level,” she says. “Being comfortable in front of a room of people and a camera is quite helpful. But in terms of a craft, they’re very different. With modelling you’re not really digging into a character, there might be a feeling to it but it’s a lot more reactive and I’m just trying to absorb what the photographer wants, and capture that. Whereas when I work on a character, I’m really trying to find that character, I’m really trying to sculpt a person.”
No doubt drawing from her own character, Cole made her acting debut as Polly the geek in the 2007 teenage comedy <i>St Trinians<i>, a remake of the 1950s classic. But it was her first leading role as Valentina – in Terry Gilliam’s 2009 film <i>The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus<i> – which cemented her place as a serious actor. Various roles soon followed with a brief stint on stage at London’s West End Old Vic theatre. Despite Cole throwing herself into acting she hasn’t completely abandoned modelling. In the new G-Star campaign – which she stars alongside Chess pro Magnus Carlsen – Cole looks as strikingly beautiful as ever. If anything, her new passions seem to have added more depth to the campaign.
I wonder then, whether being more than a pretty face creates a better picture. This idea comes as no surprise to Cole who has a theory about models who succeed through their personality. “I think it’s not a coincidence that most models who have been successful in the past, have quite interesting personalities and you can see how they attract people to continue to work with them,” Cole says. “I wonder if it’s obvious maybe in the past few years you get more of a sense of girls’ personalities because they have personal mediums to talk through. It’s more self-evident, because social media makes girls who are both interesting and beautiful become more of a brand of themselves.” An astute observation and perhaps a theory that’s applicable to herself.
Jemma Baines photographed by Byron Spencer. Styling & creative direction by Paul Bui. Feat. Emma Mulholland FW 14
Dion Lee Pre-Fall 14 lookbook. Photography: Justin Ridler. Styling: Paul Bui. Model: Marnie Harris.
@corasface is everything. (at Russian River, Guerneville). Photo by Paul Bui