It was no ordinary day in South East London when I sat down with a special pair of interview subjects. This two-pronged attack chose a menswear designer Alex Mattsson and his partner in creative crime, Californian-born rapper Brooke Candy. When I first arrive, Alex Mattsson is sitting in a space ship. We move to some actual furniture and sit, shaking hands and removing sunglasses (me), looking cool (Alex). Moments later we are joined by a barefoot Brooke Candy, his recent friend and musical inspiration. While Candy's name might make her sound like a high school cheerleader, she's been described as a warrior princess. 'But I'd rather be called a queen!' she later chirrups. Brooke and her many, many rings shakes my hand and purrs almost seductively. It is, on all accounts, a peculiar scene.
The pair are joined in collaboration with Red Bull to produce a fashion film for Mattsson's SS14 presentation at London Collections: Men today. And, like the best creative fusions, it was organic. Or 'cosmic', as Brooke tells me. A physical meeting happened at concept shop Machine A on Brewer Street in Soho, where Alex is stocked. 'The last time I was in London, the only store I was told to go to was Machine A. The only things I bought were one of [Alex's] hats and a piece of jewellery. And then I went in again to hang out and he happened to be there, and they said, 'oh hey, here's the designer', and he said 'do you want to do this collaboration?', and I was like, 'how do you know who I am!'. Their natural, mutual comfortableness shows as much seated opposite me as in their creative efforts. 'I mentioned Brooke ages ago [to Red Bull] because I was really intrigued by her, and then it just sort of happened, we kind of bumped into each other', says Mattsson.
But the two of them are modest and infectiously respectful of one another. Brooke is keen to admit this: 'immediately I was a fan of his clothing! I can make a million songs but he's really branching out and doing something different with his collection so I feel honoured that he wanted to pair up'. And so they swing back and forth, layering one another in compliments that it almost seems to be getting a little hot in here. But Alex is sure: 'I don't feel like I'm putting my neck out at all, I feel totally honoured to be able to work with Brooke'. Such cuties.
Alex Mattsson and Brooke Candy in the Red Bull Studio
Mattsson grew up in Norway - 'I didn't know how to find fashion, there wasn't really much around' but soon discovered i-D magazine, where sartorial Cupid's arrow set in. 'Gareth Pugh had a huge influence on me, and Cassette Playa, she had Sonic the Hedgehog on the catwalk and that just blew my mind when I first started', he says. Coincidentally, Candy's early fashion memories stem from the same style bible: 'when I was seventeen I moved to San Francisco, I used to work at this boutique and I used to read i-D. I started to look at Style.com because I didn't have any friends.' Dressed in a pair of Ashley Williams lipstick pants and one of Alex's designs, she continues: 'I liked asymmetrical stuff, Ann Demeulemeester, we sold her in the boutique. I went through that phase and now I'm in a different phase again.'
And this phase includes Alexander Wang, 2013's hot fashion topic. They are both a fan. 'I have so much Alexander Wang, I think he's taking on a huge legacy at Balenciaga. He has big shoes to fill,' Brooke says. Alex agrees, 'as a designer he's one of my biggest inspirations'. 'He has a slick simplicity, it's clever and wearable and what I try to have more of in my line', he continues before Brooke can't help but add, 'masses of people can wear this stuff so it's very commercial, but at the same time it's very clever, very chic'.
And she's really into fashion; it's more than just clothes. 'If you're walking on the street and you're in the freshest designer clothing, that's power. If I walked down the street wearing full Alex Mattsson I know people would look at me because you don't have to know who has designed what you're wearing to have power,' she muses. And her partner in crime is in on this too, 'it's like armour, it changes your personality,' Alex says. 'When you put something on, it makes you feel a certain way and that comes out through your aura, you act the way you feel and you act the way you dress'. I interviewed the pair wearing a pinafore and a Breton, so my calling is clearly of the school girl variety. 'I dress however I'm feeling that day, I have about twenty personalities. It's like a shield; it's the greatest art form other than music, that's why they continuously inspire each other,' she adds, twirling her rings.
We move on to Suzy Menkes' piece of fashion commentary surrounding the fashion circus. 'I would have trouble wearing some of the stuff I design, so I'm designing for somebody else in a way. There are a lot of people in fashion that see something and say 'I've got to have that'. Those are the people that keep the industry working but I don't think I've bought anything in years', Alex says. 'The people who are effortless become the muses because the designer can tell', Brooke adds. 'You can have an interest in fashion but there's so much more to life'.
And what's more to life for the pair? For Brooke, it's Lil' Kim. 'She's honestly everything. I've been called a post-apocalyptic Lil' Kim. She was the first person to fuse high fashion with her crazy, intense, hardcore lyrics'. Ms Kim's Hardcore, if you're interested, is one of her favourite albums. 'While she was in jail, her and Marc Jacobs were pen pals - he would write five page letters to her and she would send him back crayon drawings of Bratz Dolls. He has them framed or something.' And for Alex? 'When I used to have a motorbike, all I used to do was go to biker bars and talk to old bearded men about motorbikes. I could do that every day. I don't hang out that much with fashion people, we hardly ever talk about fashion.'
Brooke Candy in the Red Bull Studio
But the future is looming for the pair as we begin to wrap up. 'Considering the last few years that I've been doing my label, I could never predict what I'd be doing a year from now,' Mattsson says. 'I'm collaborating with Caterpillar; I'm doing some boots'. That's a big old space to be watching, boys and girls. And Brooke? 'I'm shooting a film with Terry Richardson; I've got lots of secret things planned too.' As you'd expect, naturally. And with a clash of rings, a double kiss goodbye, they were off to plot their next move. I leave feeling as if I've stepped out of a time continuum, but I'm blaming the space ship.
Check out the fruits of their labour at www.redbull.co.uk/catwalk-studio where the video is available to stream. Alex Mattsson is stocked at Machine A on Brewer St, W1 (machine-a.com).