‘Getting into fashion was an accident, like most things in my life’ Simeon Farrar laughs. We meet at his exhibit in the basement of the Pirus store on Newburgh St. The exhibition is called ‘Of Rainbows and Halos’ and it consists of colourful prints, melting glass bottles, canvases that, hung in the right order, form poems, paint from the walls dripping onto the floor, a rainbow printed wooden shed with sketches on the inside. ‘If I had given myself more time, I would have kept going, and would have painted on the walls’ he says. ‘I am going through such a creative period and I want to take advantage of it as much as I can’
Growing up with an art teacher mother, Simeon, loved drawing from a very young age. ‘My brother and I would draw, all the time, after school, in the weekends’ before adding ‘however, I wanted to be a skateboarder’. The skateboarding culture itself has influenced Simeon a lot, ‘Punk, Hip Hop, musicians that became artists. It’s their way of looking at a city, their energy, that inspires me a lot’ He says. ‘Barry ‘Mcgee, Skateboarder Ed Templeton. People that started as one thing and evolved into something else, people who wrote their own rules, who came into the art world through the back door. You’re a lot freer when you don’t know your limitations and I want to think that’s what I’m like with fashion.
Despite his love for skateboarding and music, Simeon went on to study Fine Arts. He describes the experience as ‘fantastic, It taught me everything and nothing simultaneously’ before sincerely adding ‘I recommend it to everyone. Study fine art!’. In Simeon’s case, fashion was an evolution of fine art. ‘I just saw t-shirts as canvases’ he says ‘just more space for my prints’. The fashion world, however, spotted something special in Simeon’s bold prints, in his sketches, in his use of colours. His art t-shirts turned into fashion and Simeon turned into a designer.
‘Unfortunately, Kate Mouse, probably’ he laughs when I ask what he thinks he will be remembered for. I suppose like most artists, Simeon has a love – hate relationship with the piece that brought fame in. ‘A few collections ago, I was designing with nursery rhymes in mind’ he explains of the birth of the Kate Mouse t-shirts ‘I drew two mice with exes instead of eyes and decided my third one to be female. I drew from magazines, it happened to be Kate Moss’s face. It is just a face, you know. I saved it on my computer as Kate Mouse, without really thinking. It was a genius moment, although accidental, like everything else’. The Kate Mouse t-shirt, however, is not just Simeon’s most known design; it’s also the vehicle for his proudest moment. ‘Raising money for Japan, was my proudest moment without a doubt’. Every £20 donated to Japan, guaranteed a Kate Mouse t-shirt ‘We raised so much money, I’ve lost count’ he gushes ‘It’s just great, we’re such a small company yet we managed to give so much’.
Simeon is funny, he has a good sense of humour, attributes you can also see in his work. Kate Mouse brought on a series of tongue in cheek t-shirts with models depicted as animals and the product of his collaboration with Fulton, shows cats and dogs happily resting on an umbrella ‘Apparently, no one else had done it before’ he says, not quite believing how that could be the case. The one off cats and dogs umbrella had such a great response, Fulton and Farrar are collaborating again, for a larger collection. When I ask him about his current weather prints, he lights up ‘This collection is my favourite. I enjoyed designing it and I enjoy promotion which usually isn’t the case. I am quite obsessed, still, with rainbows. What they mean, what they represent, so beautiful, so lovely, everything I want to include into my work. But visually as well, all the colours’ he says ‘my designer and I worked very closely to find the shapes and silhouettes that the prints would look better on’ he adds, pointing out the maxi dresses with the raindrops ‘It works better on a maxi, you have more of a feel of raindrops falling’.
Simeon enjoys collaborations and dialogues ‘I hate art that doesn’t consider the viewer, the wearer. I like to have a dialogue with the people that will own a piece of clothing of mine’. Social Networking is good for that. ‘People send me feedback on my prints, they tell me they bought my clothes from shops I didn’t even remember, they send me pictures of my art in their surroundings’. I ask him what’s next. He takes a moment and says ‘For a very long time, I had neglected the artist in me. I would say ‘I used to be an artist’ but I’m ready now to do it again, I can do that kind of thing. Art and Fashion can be equal again. I want it to be dual, double. Artist and Fashion Designer.’ I look around at his art and his garments, there is no doubt this man is a true artist, who does not need to choose just one type of a canvas.