Fragrant with the 1984 cult horror movie C.H.U.D and Sci-fi anime, we discover Christian Stone's artefacts as he narrates the first chapters of a Mutant Artisinal virtual rebirth.
So, let’s start by you telling me a bit about yourself
My name is Christian Stone. Although it is not my biological name, this pen name I gave myself when I was 15, actually came from me watching Americas Next Top Model a long time ago. There was a contestant named ‘Christian’ and I thought it’s super interesting that a religion could also be person’s name. At the time I didn’t know about Christian Dior or Christian Louboutin. I just thought that first name sounds spiritual and holds great power.
On top of that, it was for a girl, which in itself was super cool, therefore I just took ‘Christian’ as my first name. And ‘Stone’ came from my love for Lara Stone. I used to be her fan, and I kept telling people she is my older sister. That was how ‘Christian Stone’ came about and it stuck with me since. I am a fashion designer and I graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2017. I have begun running my own label since last year, July. It has been almost a year but somehow the fact that I have my own business still doesn’t feel quite solid just yet. Maybe that is because I just prefer to view it as ‘doing the things I love doing’ which is making clothes I like.
What first drew you to menswear?
I would say my interest to look at menswear as a fascinating subject was first drawn by my experience working at Hood By Air in my placement year. But I would like to say I design gender fluid clothings for both men and women. I have instinctively always designed outfits that don’t involve a lot of curves or darts, even when I was in CSM. And it was something that I didn’t realise until I started working with Shayne and Akeem. During my placement, I was primarily designing ‘menswear’ although almost all of their clothes are actually gender fluid.
The pieces they produced lack the traditional female silhouette but they would also appeal to women. It was all about finding cool multi-technical shapes that nobody has done before, or experimenting with cool details on the garments. That was the happiest time for me because I could relate so much to their way of designing, every design task came very naturally to me. It was just pure joy to work with their team, at the same time, my own way of designing also started to take it’s own shape with this work experience.
You describe your brand as “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller”. Can you tell me a bit about the initial development, or evolution, of Mutant Artisanal?
‘Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller’ actually refers to C.H.U.D, a cult horror movie in 1984. I just love B-movies. Mutant Artisanal came from the idea of designing a new breed of clothing for a new race of human with revolutionised functions and textiles in mind. This idea came when I was making my graduate collection in CSM. My aim was to genetically alter the code of garment making almost like treating clothes like biochemical toys. I mess them around with unconventional materials, and I deconstruct them, put them back together in the most conceptual yet considerate ways.
Every piece I design, I hope to produce something that feels totally new, not only appealing but also can serve some great functions for this new race of human. I want my clothes to feel like weird artefacts in a way where they would be ancient inventions made by our ancestors from a lost civilisation, buried underground for a million years and only came to light as something to be considerate ‘artisanal’ today.
One of your most recognisable designs is your Backpack Boots. Can you tell me about the birth of these?
It came from a fitting session in which I just put my models’ foot in backpacks, and I thought wouldn’t it be great if people don’t need to carry anything on their back anymore? The original idea was to make ‘leg sleeves’ that would have storage units on them, but it slowly got incorporated with the shoes as well during design development. At the beginning, I was just wrapping existing shoes with leg pieces I made which have the exterior part of a backpack, those were in my graduate collection and people seemed fascinated by them. Through much more development later, now I am able to make real boots which really incorporate functional bags as a whole complete piece, in any material and any sizes.
What mesmorised you so much about ‘Re-Animator’?
I was taken by how far the visual effect team went for the blood and gore scenes. They did not hold back at all. And, I love that 80’s sci-fi aesthetic that has that fluorescent tone of colours. And the set design, acting and everything always looking hilariously overdone.
When did your work hone into the aesthetic or concentrated concept of what Christian Stone is today?
I think the elements in my concept came from all the sci-fi anime and novel I watched and read. I probably indulged too deeply in those that I would start making up my own narratives with my original characters. I would draw them out in great details even. There was a particular period in which I was very into the profession of character design before I got into fashion. I am very glad that being a fashion designer also gave me the same opportunity to create looks that are my own characters.
Also when I was young, I used to make and DIY my own toys. I would turn all my toy cars upside down, spinning them like tops and start my own ‘spinning top’ battles. Or, I would turn toy swords into ‘dolls’ by turning it upside down so that the handle part would look like a hat the blade would become a long body of the ‘doll’. Then I would tie strings around the handle to pretend it has got long hair. I mean I always loved turning things around, upside down and inside out. Maybe these weird ways of mine playing with toys has somehow informed how I design clothes now.
Are there any other references your creativity is enchanted by? Your conceptual or visual fascinations.
Recently, I was enchanted by filmmaker Jordan Peele. For me, ‘US’ is a master-piece. The movie in itself is symbolic of so many meaningful and powerful ideas. I admire the way he used his research which often came from a profoundly personal place to execute put ideas that often become widely relatable social commentaries expressed though the vessels of a film. The best films for me are always the ones which make me think about and analyse the complex message behind the story.
Watching ‘US’ and ‘Get Out’ was like constantly having stimulations to the brain because he balanced elements of humour and horror so well that they never felt like they are either just comedies or thrillers, they are both. I also admire the way he has made great use of movie cliches and turned them on their heads to create strangely familiar but always compellingly surprising plot twists. I want to make fashion the way Jordan Peele makes movies.
Pondering on your interest in bringing the dead back to their second lives reminded me of the digital platform ‘Second Life’ where some people literally develop a second life. If you developed the Mutant Artisanal brand, or translated it to, a digital world, what would this look like?
I think the Mutant Artisanal world would act as the digital world that preserves the back up data inside the brain of every living human being in the real world, just in case the apocalypse one day occurred. Before the day the world-ends, this online world would remain as a free access entertaining social platform just like ‘Second Life’, but after the world ended, it would become the one and only place of refugee where humans would get the opportunity to be reborn as virtual living beings by sending their consciousness to this world’s system. Whatever human left this place with would become what they would ultimately rely on. This means human would have to try their absolute best not to mess up this world’s environment while they were treating it just as a game when they were still alive, or otherwise, their afterlife-virtual-selves would only suffer from the consequences and damages they created.
Prior to abandoning their physical bodies when the judgement day came, humans would be able to upload their consciousness to this virtual platform via cable in order to extend their lives as virtual beings. There would already be pre-selected empty shells, chosen by an individual’s parents during birth or randomly selected in the cases of orphans. Each shell would wait to be connected to the individual who had the matched identity. For this new world’s safety, the platform's system would have the algorithm to perform background checks on each and every being before allowing him/her to be reborn as mutants. Those who have serious criminal records would absolutely not be accepted to this world, in other words, they would just be dead forever in the event of apocalypse.
There would no longer be separate continents, every new virtual soul of different ethnicities would randomly be placed next to each others during the ‘re-birth’, forcing every mutant to communicate only through body languages and drawings before learning each others’ languages. Every area in this world would look equally ethnically diverse as there were no longer boarders or continents. This world would look way cooler than the one we used to have because I personally designed every object, every infrastructure in the manual, which mutants could assemble together and build.
In over a decade, this new virtual world would look as busy as the old world we left behind. What’s different was that pre-designed vehicles from the manual would be self-driving and could travel in light speed, leaving visible light trails all around places. All this energy and data produced would be secretly powering a civilisation living on a remote planet, who are the real alien mutants who have destroyed Earth. And they have taken control of all these virtual beings with their electronic gadgets in the seemly perfect ‘Mutant Artisanal World’, just like how humans used to play ‘Second Life’ on their computers.
Describe the Mutant Artisanal Arcadia
Follow up to the answer to the last question, the remote planet I mentioned is the mythical Mutant Artisanal Arcadia. Here is what I have heard so far about this planet: Similar to human swiping on Instagram to see what others are experiencing through pictures of their posts, in this Mutant Artisanal Arcadia, mutants would be able to not just see what others are doing through a screen, but they also could transport their consciousness directly to others individuals’ memories that are uploaded to a social media platform and opted to be shared to the public. As a result, they could re-live each other’s experiences in the most realistic way in a virtual format, just like wearing a VR headset, seeing what others have seen ‘in person’.
Mutants there could also easily change their gender like flipping a switch in any given date and time. That is why my collections of clothing would be very suitable to this civilisation because my garments are not defined by genders. Every mutant can wear them!
There are no further details as of how this mythical Arcadia operates, but the truth is, this is all I have got so far. One day, I can possibly complete a science fiction with this story, but in the mean time, whoever is interested to read those further chapters would just need to wait a little bit.
What are your aspirations for the future of Mutant Artisanal?
Back to a realistic approach to answer questions, one of my biggest aspirations is to develop my own new technical fabrics and make them into garments. Right now, I have been customising fabrics myself using what’s available around me in quite a DIY kind of way. For example, I have fused fabrics with foil and plastic previously. But in the near future, I wish to collaborate with mills or tech companies to create smart fabrics with special machines that serve particular functions and they would be unique to my designs.
courtesy CHRISTIAN STONE
interview KATE BISHOP
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