WORDS

Clifford Jago & The Tulip Chewers is a new globe-trotting art project where the London stylist finds subjects un-styled and without makeup – capturing a natural spontaneity and of-the-moment charm.

Jago is a London-based stylist and art director who finds chic in the discarded – repurposing raw materials and using them for outlandish shoots and aesthetics. Leaving a culture of brand involvement and convoluted personnel by the wayside, Jago visited Amsterdam for a five-day shoot which formed the contents of an upcoming London exhibition starting tomorrow (24 November).

Alongside the exhibition, a 48 page A4 book, styled somewhat satirically as a fashion magazine is also available. The book documents the trip in and around Amsterdam and features portraits of various models in ‘Jago’ form.

Eccentric, elusive and fiercely enigmatic, we pinned Clifford down to talk touch-ups, Topshop and tulip-mania.

How important is the absence of makeup or hair styling to the Jago aesthetic?

Firstly I think it allows a much more free approach, without using proper make up and hair I am left to control every element of the image. Allowing the models to appear completely natural and vibe in the moment without anyone disrupting the flow. A lot of shoots in the industry now appear to embrace the natural look but still make up and hair play a big part in perfecting this look, I thought why not just go natural? Without all the discrete touch ups, my work demonstrates that models look beautiful as they are, I don’t agree with selling the idea of perfection, its boring and at times damaging in the wider scale of things.

How did you pin down your distinctive style?

It’s been a bit of a journey to where my style is now, I originally cut my teeth on Saville Row but quickly found that it just wasn’t for me. After a short stint in mechanics I wanted to get back into styling but needed a fresh angle. After trying on every top in Topshop I was able to desensitise myself from the norm. Like saying a familiar word over and over again until it becomes meaningless I was able to see things in a fresh light. I can take ideas from anywhere and translate them subconsciously, video game characters have played an important part as well as iconic football legends such as ‘Francesco’ Zola and Abel Xavier.

Tell us about your experience in Amsterdam putting this collection together?

Amsterdam is great, it is a beautiful city embedded with a passionate mentality towards the arts. Meeting up with old friends I experienced a pirate ship rave, I came head to head with a young MC in a karaoke bar, luckily one of my shoot days landed on Liberation day, many obstacles on the streets became my tools. Shooting with a more gonzo styling approach allowed me to have adventures with models that would not be possible in most shoots. I was able to spend time and get to know the models one on one and build a real connection while making the imagery. Basically like chilling with mates all day.

Could you elaborate on the idea of limitless possibilities beyond brands and credits?

It is a very freeing experience not being tied down by brands and credits like with traditional styling and I think this project has definitely proved that you don’t always need names to make images beautiful/interesting.

What can people expect from the exhibition? 

I want people to ride the funk train with me and experience the journey as I did on this project. You can expect a lot of colour, a lot of fruit (courtesy of our sponsor of the year Fyffes) and some soundscape delights. Chan photographic provided some beautiful large scale prints of some of the book and two amazing translucent prints for the windows.

And the book?

The book is a gonzo journey through a fashion dream, take off your clothes, dip in and enjoy the bubbles. Working in the DNA of fashion I was able to critique it whilst still using its codes and conventions. I think the book is accessible to everyone, this is very important to me. My phone can completely take over my brain and I hate this, the whole art direction of the book plays on the idea of this, you will see what I mean.

Finally, what do you think makes the Tulip so distinctive?

As I learnt Holland has a deep and fascinating relationship with the Tulip that goes back hundreds of years with the Golden Age of the Tulip. In the 17th century ‘Tulip Mania’ hit Holland and they became so popular that they were even used as currency. It was hard to resist iconic object while creating my work in Amsterdam and it became a major theme throughout the project.

Clifford Jago & The Tulip Chewers runs from 24 November to 27 November 2016 at PYLOT Magazine, 203-213 Mare Street Studios, E8 3QE

Supported by Chan Photographic | All proceeds go to Cancer Research UK

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