Peter Saville launched his Umbro 'Modern England' menswear collection at Harvey Nichols last week. Also talking about football fashion and the ever-changing English culture, the Creative Director of the Manchester tells it as he sees it.
Our highlight was the question raised by Lynda Moyo
LM: 'Original Modern' is your phrase for your work in the city - and how the city itself should try to work. Did you have that phrase in the back of your mind over this project?
PS: It would be a way of describing Factory Records 30 years ago, which was the first thing I did when I left college. It was the spirit of the better and more important things that have come out of Manchester. There's successful conventional things that have come out of Manchester, but the ones the city is most fond and proud of are those that have been controversial, irreverent or proposed another way. Whether it was the beginning of the Trade Union movement or George Best, it was a kind of independence, a wilfulness and determination to do something or say something a different way. That's how we get progress. 'Original Modern' is very Manchester, and in the spirit of Factory. Those are the things that you want to be involved in opportunities to make a difference. In the City festival is very 'Original Modern' too.
LM: What was your brief for the project?
PS: We had a very intensive three or four days. The England team shirt is a white shirt and this time that white shirt needed to be colourful. The previous one was really white. It looked great - beautiful - and it's difficult to follow on from something you really like. I worked with two or three friends to work out how we could introduce colour to it.
LM: What was your thought process for the final design?
PS: We were thinking 'What is England about'. It's difficult because we don't really think about England anymore. I think about the UK and Great Britain, so what is England and Englishness? Some of the things have exclusive associations. English style - because it's a historic idea has a lot of class connotations. Then there's the rose, but do you really want to see football players wearing a design with roses on it?
There's a pathway that begins to open up in front of you when designing. We thought a lot about 'Englishness' which then influenced the colours. In the mix of that were geometric motives, circles, dots and crosses. As soon as we got to crosses Paul Barnes, who was working with me, said let's try different types of crosses. We tried the St George Cross and all of the possibilities fell into place. The idea of what it suddenly meant to see the cross of St George in many colours made it difficult to be excited about any of the other ideas we'd come up with. Suddenly it was like the place I live.
The Modern England collection by Peter Saville, is available to buy on the second floor Menswear Department at Harvey Nichols Manchester.