LOYAL SUBJECTS

“The current ideal is to conform and control, be part of a system or dominating force... you’re only relevant if you look a certain way.” In unbraiding the ropes learned through socialization, London-based multidisciplinary artist Rhiannon Davies’ collections weave inspirations spanning Celtic mythology, Fleetwood Mac and equestrian fashion to explore the contemporary notion of perfection.

You are not only a fashion designer but also a singer. How do you define yourself? Do you feel more like a fashion designer or singer? 

I would say neither. I’m a multidisciplinary artist who explores fashion and soundscape simultaneously. In simpler terms, I do sing and design, but my process is more in-depth than I think people realize. I write my music and have produced most of the songs in my archive, as well as research. I recently took time to study historical pieces by working with the National Museum of Wales (St. Fagans) to access original manuscripts to inspire melody and poetry. My BA is in fashion design and I am a trained sample maker. There is a whole stream of creative consciousness backed up by technical skill and context. I’m still learning in practice and evolving, but it would be simply underwhelming to use labels such as designer or singer.

Music and fashion are intricately linked. Where do your music and design collide, for you, personally? And, on the other hand, where are they separated from each other?

They only collide if people want to see it that way. For me, I think my music and my costumes are intrinsically linked and birthed from my own personal identity. It’s all the same referencing (light or literal) to Celtic art, equestrianism, and my affinity with the natural/supernatural. People can dip into whichever aspect they want. I guess stylists will hire my pieces for shoots – Kim Petras recently wore my shoes for editorial, and probably doesn’t know I make music, and that’s fine. But the different elements of my creative expression are there to be discovered. I separate the two on social media pages but that’s just organization-wise. Whoever wonders will see the whole world that I’ve started to evolve under my name.

In your work, you explore the goddess of fertility, who bears the same name as you, Rhiannon. Why does she fascinate you? Did you find a bit of yourself in her?

She is fascinating to me because I was always steered away from her pagan and mystical origins by my Christian parents. I was brought up in one kind of religious family and my identity belonged to that. It wasn’t for me, it was for everyone else. As I grew older, I questioned what I believed and which path I should follow – so being a creative, I naturally wrote my own. I found the descriptions of Rhiannon really entrancing – her association with horses and her singing voice that could bring life or lull the living to sleep, her independence. I felt I could relate to the fantasy in a small way and it empowered my seemingly ordinary daily life. I never liked my real name, but discovering its origins made me proud of my roots, so I carved a new set of beliefs, this time finally in myself.

Another layer of your past collections is questioning how society idealized the female body and animal bodies. What is your approach to the body and its current ideal? 

The approach I had formulated before was simply the observation between horses and the female form – similar curves, hair, a strong stance and silhouette. We glamourise, preen and name ourselves as we do horses. It was simply a comment on how the human urge to control and conform extends to the natural world, and moving forward it was more about being in affinity with the horse as opposed to a dominating force. And I think that’s it. The current ideal is to conform and control, be part of a system or  dominating force, which says you’re only relevant if you look a certain way. I’d say just be in affinity with your own self and do what you really want to do.

Sustainability is also a big part of your work. What have you learned about designing sustainably that you think is essential to keep in mind as a creator? 

Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of money, so since I have started my practice, I’ve been entirely self-funded. Simple things such as digging up old work and recutting, keeping a fabric scrap box, telling people about my work and accepting donations. These are a few sustainable ways to follow. For me, it started out as just economic survival and a way to maintain longevity as an artist, yet naturally it was also environmentally viable. My favorite examples are using the old leather threads that bind a saddle together for embroidery, or flocking hair from a leftover wig. It’s all fun and it’s also moral.

As per our current theme, the last question: do you have a soulmate animal? 

The horse, but crows are relevant to me too. I took a spirit animal test and that is apparently mine haha. But interestingly the Goddess Rhiannon was known to have three mystical birds that always followed her (The Adar), whose song assisted her in waking the dead and lulling the living to sleep. So birds and horses, if I’m allowed two.

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Bio

Rhiannon Davies is a Fashion Designer and Artist based in London, graduating in 2020 from the Fashion Knitwear course at Central Saint Martins. She was born in Somerset, England, but hails from Welsh descent, so nods to various aspects of her Celtic heritage in her work. Receiving a scholarship from the British Fashion Council for her graduate collection and with an unstoppable voice, she gained recognition in The Face Magazine, ShowStudio and various publications such as Numero, Apart, and Womenswear Daily.

 

From a feminist standpoint, Davies explores the goddess of fertility recorded in the ancient Welsh Mabinogion, also named Rhiannon, who was often depicted on a white mare. Davies uses her as a muse to comment on a certain body shape we worship as ‘perfection’ in the western world. Corsets, tails, and elements of skin and contouring allude to how preening, naming and the ‘keeping-up-of-appearances’ extends from humans to wild forms of nature such as horses. Specializing in leatherwork and clothing with an equestrian twist – each look features repurposed materials and objects which are brought back to life: from reworked bandages and synthetic hair, to horse rugs and horse saddles, to reigns and second hand denim.

 

With the current climate and fashion labels contemplating abandoning seasonal shows, the 24 year-old student’s recent collection paves the way for alternative modes of fashion marketing. Through fine art, audio, and movement she seeks to curate many facets of artistic practice. Davies’ culmination of sound art and fashion has generated a unique fashion experience that is distinctive to her name.

Credits

Fashion designer / @rhiannondavies______

https://www.rhiannondavies.london/

 

RHIANNON DAVIES SS/21 RTW

Photography: Megan Chloé Bowles @ragbagxo

Styling: David Kobé @david__kobe

Makeup: Daeun Jung @jungdaeun_mua

Hair: Daniel Moura @danmoura_hair

Assistants for piece: Sophie Gumienna @sophiegumienna , Darius Kanuga @darius.kanuga, Badr Ouati @badder.w

Model: Charlie Spence @spenny1912

thx to @revoltmodelagency @25amire

 

RIDER LOOKBOOK

Photography @darius.kanuga 

Edits and garments by @rhiannondavies______

Styling @david__kobe 

Shoes @guillemturrocasanovas 

 

EPONA

Photography by @rhiannondavies______and @chet.l.lo

Model @elifyilmazturk.

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