Monday, 25 June 2012


We are repeatedly told that fashion film is the future. As these proclamations echo deep in the recesses my mind, examples that surprise, excite and inspire are most rare. The majority of two to three minutes spent watching the remainder of efforts can at best be written off as wasted. Therefore, we should celebrate and share the ones that work. Ian Batten's collaboration with the jewellery designer and artist Julia Manheim, Seeming, is one such example. Thanks to the designer finally venturing online with a new look website I was able to watch it. And watch it again. For me, the film captures the essence of Batten's approach wonderfully. He's been in the business for over forty years, designing his eponymous line for twenty of them and today sits in his Highgate shop-cum-studio with a beaming smile on his face and loosely tailored legion of sartorial fans. Ian Batten is something of a secret and more than a part of him likes it that way. Having paid the designer a visit over the weekend to talk through the evolution of his label (post to follow), Seeming is a great mode of introduction, so I asked him about it.

Having first become friends thanks to sharing a studio together in Peckham, Batten and Manheim collaborated on a project for Chelsea College of Art entitled Struck by Hammers. "People were asked to mime a piece of furniture. Julie wanted to do a piano but felt she needed something more, so I made this conceptual dress for her," explains the ever animated Batten before taking another sip of his coffee. Shortly after this creative coming together, the pair decided to work on a film together which built on the previous project. "I started working on sets that were the sleeves, the trouser and so on. It grew organically really, a little experimentation pushed it forward or changed its direction slightly. My youngest son who was studying at Central Saint Martins at the time came in and filmed it." Batten makes everything sound so simple. "I took it with me to Japan for a show that I did with my partner Rie Taniguchi in 2009. It was really well received, particularly by artists which was a surprise really. When you do something like that, especially art films, they can be a bit 'up their backsides'. Bill Viola is my big hero when it comes to visual art, he's in another league, so much of it is absolutely awful." Like everything Batten crafts in cloth, Seeming is anything but awful. It is delicate yet playful, secretive yet absorbing, inanimate yet alive. Watch it...

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