Fendi and Fila — two brands that on the surface may not seem to have much in common, but their devoted followings and iconic logos suggest they're more similar than we might think. Designer and artist REILLY is a master at putting together satirical collages that combine pop culture, art history, and our society's obsession with brands. Fendi tapped him to put together a collaboration that resulted in the Fendi-Fila mashup we saw at Milan Fashion Week.
We spoke with the Scottish designer about the significance of logos, semiotics and how that collaboration came to be:
How did the Fendi collaboration come about?
I was playing around with the idea of stretching brands to breaking point by mixing them up with opposites — high/low, fashion/sports, tech/food — and the images I made worked for me, so shared them on my Instagram. The mashups retain the essential authority of the brand and logo, even though the foundational elements of fonts, colors and even context were messed up. The whole series went down so well it took on a life of its own and got featured and shared a lot!
What makes a good collage?
Maybe you should ask John Stezaker, for me he's really the king. But I love to play around and experiment a lot, I need to make every day, but a lot of stuff just does not look right and if they don't work for me I don't share them. They have to have a zap, a jolt, which for me is joy, but also a lightness, hopefully a bit humor, and to just look right.
Why do we love labels so much?
Labels are a kind of shorthand, a non-verbal sign system that carries a message to the viewer. The best brands "speak" to us on a level sometimes even beyond conscious knowing. Not to get all heavy, but I think fashion labels, logos and brands essentially bring the ideas of semiotics and Roland Barthes to our bodies and our everyday world, through the commercial commodification of a sign we wear as an identity. The best fashion labels make you look good and make you look clever.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I'm a phone zombie. I could tap through entire lifetimes on the internet. I keep notes of ideas from art and films and silly shouty conversation with friends. I recently moved to Hastings where the crazy people, the mad junk shops and the shock of the seeing the sea every day excites me in a whole new way.
What are you working on next?
I am messing about again making images to put on my new T-shirts range, after saving up a large stash of work that was maybe more harsh or punk. I love T-shirts and their central place in fashion culture as a zone for sign sharing — to me they are a real world version of an Instagram cell. I also have a project coming up to exhibit my work at "Montaigne Market" in Paris and a few more collaborations. Eventually I'd like to possibly collaborate on film credits, and especially to work on a signature scent from concept to name to bottle design, so if it's okay with you I'll just put that out to the world here!