Jay Briggs is a storyteller of Avant-Garde Gothic Fashion, who brings us with his creations into a magic world dominated by dark forces. This parallel world is populated by alluring nymphs, mysterious necromancers and lethal witches. These graceful creatures are dressed by the designer in feathers, pearls and lavish headdresses, all decorated with an unique craftsmanship.
With “Malleus Maleficarum” Briggs debuts in 2013 from University of Salford. The collection fascinated its viewers at London Fashion Week with its grandeur and accurate details. The medieval story of “Melusina” and the metamorphosis of the “Ugly Duckling” inspired the following collections. They are revealing the true power of the individual in front of human emotions and feelings. Beyond the historical and literary matrix of Briggs designs, hides an intrinsic poetry able to awake our sweetest dreams or the most disturbing nightmares.
Tell us about your academic background and how has you artistic aesthetic evolved during the years?
I began my studies at the University of Salford in Manchester. It was here I started out on the yellow brick road to where I am today as it natured and refined my creative vision, and gave me the initial platform to showcase my debut collection at London Graduate Fashion Week. I believe that, as people, you naturally evolve and transform into better versions of ourselves and I think that this is also reflected in your artistic aesthetic as a designer, while at the same time keeping true to your individual vision.
You have created a new dimension where fashion meets mythology of witches and nymphs and you become the storyteller. When exactly was your first approach with these fantastic worlds and you realized that it could be your own expressive way?
Its the escapism and fantasy which draws me to fairy tales and mythical creatures, how they have the power to transport you from your everyday reality into a different world. I suppose this fascination is something that has always been with me from childhood, however it cemented itself during the research process for my graduate collection, as it is this which inspires me the most, not only on a creative level but a personal level too, and from that it seems to have made itself my own little world.
Gothic, darkness, necromancy are some of basic aspects that characterize your aesthetic. When did you become fascinated about this atmosphere?
Its always been the darker side of the fairytale which I have found myself drawn to, that being the villain, due to their dominance and power within the story. From childhood I’ve always had a fascination with witches and witchcraft in general, so I think its kind of stuck with me, as its a subject which will always attract my attention and never fails to inspire me.
Your creations are sophisticated and well structured by elaborate decorations. Behind an explosion of laces, pearls, plumes and skulls we notice a great geometric disposition. Can you describe us the process of realization of one piece?
The collection always beings with a concept or story which I will then research into more depth which enables me to fully understand it, before I create my own twist. At this point I will also be fabric sourcing and playing with silhouettes for the overall collection. I then put pen to paper and design the full collection, while toiling on the mannequin at the same time, to visually see what works and what doesn’t, until I get a final line up. I then go back to the mannequin and 3D pattern cut the collection, toiling along the way and making more adjustments until I get the perfect image and fit. Only then will the final product be made.
Music and silence are like yin-yang of a creativity process. When and how do you use each of them while working?
I hate silence, especially in the studio I have to have music or something on in the background constantly, as I don’t like that feeling of being alone, and giving my mind the chance to wander off into distant lands when I don’t want it too.
The connection with Nature is crucial to “unload” ideas. What is your approach with it and how do you find inspiration?
As a spiritual person nature is very important to me, nature is a source of inspiration that never stops giving, constantly changing and evolving, each phase being as beautiful as the last. I often use nature as an escapism, there really is nothing like being in a clearing in the middle of a forest, on a summers day, light rays falling all around you like magical beams, birds singing in the tree tops above and butterflies drinking the nectar of the wildflowers around you… lost in a book or sketch.
Your works are the result of your talent and imagination. Is there any relation between the story you tell through your pieces and your personal way of being?
I think the connection between your being and your work is extremely important, as your creative vision should simple be an
extension of yourself, thus possessing essence of your soul. Its this which makes each collection special, and believable.
I’ve always been taught to do something with passion or not at all, hard work gets noticed, no mountain is too high to climb.
Human history can help us to define our aesthetic according to the major events that hit us. What are the historical episodes and characters that influenced most your collections?
The Tudor and Elizabethan periods of British History will never fail to inspire me. A period of opulence and drama, with a huge
emphasis on the royal family with their being seen as the closest thing to god on earth, making them the most powerful and wealthy people in the country. I find their lives inspiring and how they dressed to show their status, its truly fascinating and I can’t get enough of it.
We inherited from French writer Théophile Gautier the concept “l’art pour l’art”, where the main role of Art is to embody the pure Beauty. Are your works conveying this kind of perfect beauty or they are also assigned a moral task?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, what is someones dream could be someone else’s nightmare, its all down to personal taste, and thats how life survives, it would be such a boring place if everyone thought the same. I like to think my work has a form of beauty to it and an attention to detail, however I want the viewer to create their own story with my work and tell their own tale, using their own passion and emotions to do so.
If you were a witch or a nymph how would you represent yourself, what material would you employ? Would you be an innocent nymphor a lethal witch?
How do you know I’m not a witch and your just under one of my enchantments, how do you know I’m a live being and not just a figment of your imagination…
All images, courtesy of artist: Jay Briggs
Photographer: Fabio Esposito
Editor: Amina Codraro