Creator of conspicuous label Boy, Stephane Raynor has a provocative approach to fashion and art that treads the fine line dividing the underground from pop culture. During an interview at his shop Sick on Redchurch Street in East London, we talk about his new clothing label Sick Girl.
Self Service: How did you set up Sick Girl?
Stephane Raynor: I don’t think I did. I think it was just an organic process. I was pushing out imagery on Sick Book and various other FB [Facebook] applications that we had. I was just, over the years, always talking about my Sick Girls and putting up photos and comments. It became the generic, became just something that happened as if it had always been there, which is probably the best way that things happen. It’s a bit like Boy before.
SSUK: Tell us a bit more about the label you had founded back in 1977 through your King’s Road shop Boy.
SR: There was no rationale. It wasn’t about making money. It was about art. Nothing to do with anything else at all. And that’s the way that I believe our movement should happen, especially in Great Britain. For me it’s always been like that. Some people say that I’m following the Malcom McLaren kind of theme and that what we do is kind of art-based, a bit confrontational.
We’re honing in on the girls’ side of things now because Boy is not as provocative as it was in the beginning because all girls wore Boy. I think now everyone’s got used to Boy. Because when I opened up, they thought Boy was the strangest idea ever, ‘How can you call a shop Boy? It just doesn’t make any sense!’
SSUK: What are your influences?
SR: I don’t have any. I hate ‘art’. The Times, a couple of years ago, have said that I was the greatest artist ever and that Damien Hirst should go and kill himself because I did it twenty years before. So I like that kind of thing because that piece of art even got missed and no one even knew that it was art. I deal in the extreme depths of art that we live in. I believe that everybody should burn their art the moment they create it and it shouldn’t be for investors. So I considered that a bit of a joke, but people keep telling me that I’m a genius and they believe that I’m an artist that hates art and that I hate fashion. But what I do instead is play with people’s heads, basically. And that often works because you create an illusion and people look for you on the garment rails (and I hate garment rails) because you stand out a little bit.
SSUK: What happened between Boy and Sick?
SR: I didn’t go to Paris, I stayed here. Most of them go [to] Paris or the US but I stayed here because I believe this is my grass roots and I created most things that happened really from punk, through to rave culture, through to every other kind of culture pretty much, created Covent Garden, I turned Soho pink. I’m called a gay label and I have no idea why because I’m a punk label because it seems that I’m the biggest gay label out there in the world. Created Ibiza and virtually everything. I want to use my signature to create and to work with the archiving and the heritage that we have.
SSUK: What’s in store for Sick Girl?
SR: The idea is that there will eventually be a book or something on Sick Girls, so we saw the need to push out some imagery on — I guess — fashion. We’d probably find a band — I probably did find a band but I probably decided that bands were a bit not-so-current now. I saw the Sick Girls as being the new Spice Girls, basically. So I kind of consider them as I dressed the Spice Girls. Sick Girls was a great current thing because Spice Girls were a bit nice, even though they were supposedly ‘girl power’, but basically run by males. I thought this time’s good. This is when girls are on top so I thought Sick Girls is great because my shop is called Sick. We decided not to call it Boy because it was more idiotic to call it Sick and a lot of people respond to that in a good way.
SSUK: Where does Sick Girl sit in this world?
SR: To be as out there as possible in this world that we live in now — unfortunately, cynically — it’s all about high streets and money. My idea was to cover some ground and get things out there, even if they’re just on t-shirts, which is probably a big business that I do anyway. And there we arrived at Sick Girl in this interesting sort of way. We didn’t even know that we arrived at it but then one day we decided that, ‘OK, we need to pull it out as a label’, so that’s where Self Service come in. We’re committed to pull that out as a brand and pitch it out there in a market, see what it does.