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Interview: Fred Butler

Before interviewing someone, I do my usual Google scope and type their name into the search bar, waiting a split second to see what comes up. With Fred Butler – London-based savvy prop and accessories designer – I was met with a mind-blowing website that had me feeling all sorts of nostalgia – promise me you’ll check it out? The best part about it all is that it truly reflected her eccentric, bold and uncompromising persona alongside her unique job and individual style. A London girl at heart, Butler creates remarkable sculptures and designs for stylists all which have led to art direction, film-making and general fashion observation amongst London’s social scene. If you’re not familiar with her work, you might be familiar with some of her designs on the likes of Lady Gaga, Bjork and Nicki Minaj – pretty impressive ey? As this weekend sees the celebration of street wear brand Boxfresh through a curated event ‘Fresh Out The Box’, Butler is part of a handful of selected creatives for a panel discussion. I caught up with the forward thinking, style enthusiast to see what being Fred Butler was all about and her opinion on street culture today.

Hey Fred, how did it all begin?
I’m from Essex and I wanted to be a fashion designer since the age of 7! I skipped A-Levels to go straight to art school to do a GNVQ and specialise in fashion. Then degree at Brighton Uni …then moved to London and interned for and became an assistant to set designer Shona Heath…then went freelance and got a studio space… and the rest is history. It was ALOT more complex than that, but there’s the nutshell version!

For those who don’t know by now, what is it you do?
I am an accessories designer and I write a blog about my life and creative things going on in London.

With your eccentric props and designs, what inspires you?
My creativity is in my hands so I never really know what is going to happen. I’m at the mercy of discovering happy accidents via experimentation. I have the vibe of a visual aesthetic in my head that I try to recreate in 3D. It usually turns out more cosmic than I first imagined because of hitting on happy accidents that happen in a moment of magic.

What inspired you to get into more commercial accessories/jewellery design?
I want anyone to be able to get fun and enjoyment from wearing my work, so I would love to make it as accessible as possible.

What has been the most exciting project you’ve worked on so far?
Having presentations with live models at Somerset House on schedule at London Fashion Week. It was my childhood dream and I managed to make it a reality, so I was chuffed to bits and thrilled to have the opportunity.

Describe your signature aesthetic?
Colourful, graphic, tactile, fun, uplifting and playful!

As an observer of the London scene, what’s your opinion on streetwear culture today?
I love London because it’s so mixed and free for anything to happen unlike other more segregated cities. You can see so many different styles walking down just one street – and surely that’s the definition of streetwear. Every individual has their own way of piecing different things together and that’s the joy. Even if it’s a bit “off” then that’s just challenging perceptions of taste – who is to say they are wrong or right?!

What do you love most about London?
That you can never truly get to know it, there are so many surprises. It’s never boring. There are so many places and people to discover. It’s got incredible history but remains totally open to self-expression and embracing the new – if you work out where to find it.

What encouraged you to take part in the Box fresh event next week?
Subculture has always fascinated me so I’m looking forward to discussing where we are at right now and meeting the other panellists who will have unique perspective and great input.

Anything you’re working on right now that we should know about?
One word – CARNIVAL! My favourite day of the year!

How different is your approach when designing accessories as opposed to props?
The challenge with accessories is that they have to fit the body; that dictates the shape and design which is a tricky task of engineering but I’m a geek in construction and enjoy figuring it out!

Favourite trend right now and why?
Pineapples – so hot right now.

What’s next?
Going to NYC to catch up with my friend’s threeASFOUR and join the 10th Anniversary celebrations for the ‘BridgeRunners’ running crew who started the movement I’m part of in London with RunDemCrew.

Best advice ever given?
“Enjoy every moment and the memory will last a life time” – a text message from my dad.

Tell us something no one else knows?
When I’m on the bus I like smiling at babies to see if I can get a smile back, its winner of a heart-warmer.

- Hardeep Gill


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