Creative Class: A Conversation with Simon Foxton

Born in 1961, Simon Foxton is considered one of the most influential, visionary stylists and creative minds on the international scene.  After graduating in 1983 from Central Saint Martins in fashion design and launching his brand Bazooka, Foxton began working for i-D magazine, where he later began a long-term collaboration with Nick Knight that eventually led Simon to become the magazine’s art director.  Foxton has succeeded in mixing together and bridging sportswear, tailoring, streetwear and fetish styles in an experimental way.  His aesthetic sense helped define the new image of modern menswear.  On the occasion of the book release in collaboration with Stone Island, we interviewed Simon about his career path and his thoughts the past and future of fashion.

Tell us about your time studying and when you discovered your passion for photography and fashion.

I was at Central Saint Martins School of Art between 1979 and 1983 and I had a fantastic time there.  That was such a wonderful time to be young, attending art school, and especially living in London!  I don’t think I was a particularly hard-working student, but I made a lot of great friends there, many of whom are still close to me even today.  There was a lot of dressing up and going out to clubs and parties.  It was pretty amazing.  I had always enjoyed consuming magazines and loved imagery but never considered actually creating any of my own.  It wasn’t until after I left college and started designing in the real world that I realised how difficult and also time-consuming it was to design.  Caryn Franklin, a friend of mine back then who was Fashion Director at i-D at the time, asked me if I’d be interested in doing some styling for the magazine.  I gave it a go and quickly realised that it felt right for me.  I liked its immediacy.  You had an idea, found the clothes, shot them, and there was the final result.  No more ordering fabrics, dealing with outworkers, delivering to shops etc.  That was such a drag.  I’ve always favoured the path of least resistance.

You are considered a leading image-maker of men’s fashion.  What changes do you see in the industry during these last years?

I’m not sure if I ever really created “fashion looks.”  I have been an image-maker for quite a while now, but that’s just because I’ve been around a long time and haven’t died yet.  I’m often asked this question and I’m never too certain how to answer it.  I guess the most fundamental change is the size and scope of the fashion industry.  Now, there is so much of it, and such enormous wealth invested in it that it has become a much more high-risk environment to work in.  When I was starting out things were much more relaxed.  When shooting for magazines, credits were more of a suggestion than a necessity.  We were very much left alone to create what we wanted, with no art directors or commercial departments interfering.  It’s only more recently that I’ve realised how fortunate we were to grow up shooting in that sort of culture.  Of course, not everything was great, and some of the work was self-indulgent, but the great thing was that we could experiment, and also fail.  Failure is a crucial part of the creative process.  Sadly, that is not allowed now in the high-budget, tense, corporate world that fashion has become.

You started with i-D magazine in 1984.  Tell us some crazy stories about your work at that time and how this experience shaped your professional and private life.

I don’t think I have any crazy stories.  I’m not a particularly crazy or dramatic person, I think the most obvious impact on both my personal and professional life comes from the people I have met through work.  From meeting and working with Nick Knight at the very start, to asking Edward Enninful to model for me and then having him become my assistant.  Likewise, street-casting Steve McQueen for an i-D shoot and us becoming very close friends.  Or meeting the photographer Jason Evans who was interning with Nick Knight; we began working together back in 1990 and have done so ever since.  Also, all the other wonderful assistants I’ve had over the years, like Jonathan Kaye (now at The Gentlewoman) or Elgar Johnson (at GQ Style), or Nick Griffiths with whom I have an ongoing creative consultancy, &SON.  Or working with the wonderful Penny Martin at SHOWstudio, who is now the editor of The Gentlewoman.  They are all still very dear friends and extremely important people in my life.

Can you please choose 5 photos from your Instagram feed that are meaningful or important for you and explain why?

Nick Knight -i-D magazine , 1986

Very memorable shoot . We shot this at night in the streets around some old warehouses next to Tower Bridge .Back then it was deserted and derelict . These days it has been made into flats and work spaces that cost millions .The fire in front of the boys is actually me walking past with a big metal rake that we wrapped in paper and set alight.

This was from a story that Jason and I shot called ’Strictly’ . We shot it all around the streets near my house in Ealing , very suburban .Edward was assisting me at the time and he helped a lot with the casting .It was a fun shoot to do and was well received .

Jason Evans , i-D magazine 1991 .  Model – Edward Enninful .
Ben Dunbar-Brunton , i-D magazine 2009 

I’ve always loved this shot I did with Ben of the stunning model Dominique Hollington .Very simple and graphic .

This is a composite from a movie that Nick and I made for Walter van Beirendock’s retrospective exhibition in Antwerp .I had access to Walter’s total archive and he allowed me to mix up his collections to create wild looks . It was really great fun .

Nick Knight / Walter van Beirendonck – Showstudio 2011
Arena Homme Plus 2009

This was a kind of backstage shot that I took on the set of a shoot that Nick Knight and I did called Frillaz !I dressed these tough looking guys in some incredibly frilly frocks that I found online from an adult baby fetish site .I had pre-warned them before the shoot of what I intended to do but still felt a bit nervous about how they would reactbut they were all great about it . The whole shoot was a joy 

You worked with truly creative mind like Nick Knight. Who are the photographers/creative people more inspiring for you?

Nick Knight inspiring.  He is constantly creative and a very exciting person to work with; you always feel you’re in safe hands working with Nick.  In a different way, Jason Evans is an extremely inspiring photographer because he questions things and makes you question yourself.  Not in an undermining way, but more as a method of creating something totally new.  I’ve also always admired the work of Jean-Paul Goude.  I love his creations.

How was working at the exhibition When You’re a Boy?

Well, that was Penny Martin’s idea.  She curated it and did all the hard work of putting the show together.  It was very exciting to have an exhibition dedicated solely to my work at The Photographer’s Gallery.  I didn’t enjoy being the centre of attention on the opening night etc.  I’m pretty useless at all that stuff and prefer to stay more in the background.  But once the show was up and running, I did enjoy viewing it dispassionately, almost as if I was looking at someone else’s work.

How has your work changed during this global pandemic?

I continue to work with Stone Island, but since I am considered to be in a “high risk” category I have been fairly strictly self-isolating so have been doing my consulting via Zoom, which has been a godsend.  I gave up shooting editorials and my teaching work last year.

What kind of relationship do you have with social networks?

I’m on Facebook quite a lot just seeing what friends are doing or watching mindless videos.  It seems that Facebook is now just used by old codgers like me; I don’t think anyone young uses it anymore.  Instagram is fun, but again pretty mindless.  I enjoy posting pictures that I take when I see something noteworthy or beautiful, otherwise I don’t bother.  All those pictures of food, or children, give me a break!  I used Tumblr for years and absolutely loved it but then they spoiled it with their puritanical anti-porn stance that edited out anything even vaguely salacious.  I closed down my account and haven’t used it since.  I transferred a few images to my Instagram account @foxtonscrapbooks, but it’s not the same, to be honest.  Twitter, I use for news that’s it.  I don’t Tweet- never got to grips with it, really.  Any of the others I just assume are for kids and don’t bother with them.

What was the process of working on the Stone Island book?  And what was the biggest challenge in creating the book?

Myself and my business partner Nick Griffiths have worked with Stone Island for the last 12 or 13 years.  We art direct, cast and shoot all the campaigns and photo-based imagery.  Nick makes a lot of the moving image pieces for their online platforms.  We also consult with the design team there to give input on the collections, and we are involved in many other facets of the brand.  Sabina Rivetti from Stone Island approached me a couple of years ago with the idea of doing a book.  I think she already had the editor Eugene Rabkin in place at that time, as well as Rizzoli as the publisher.  My role as Art Director was really to steer the ship and make sure that it remained true to Stone Island’s “language,” i.e.  it must be modern, factual and almost industrial in feel.  Nothing too flashy or over designed.  I chose Rory McCartney as designer for the book as we had worked with him on the last one, Stone Island, Archivio and therefore he understood the aesthetic well.  We spent a long time trawling through masses of imagery looking for photos that were hopefully interesting and informative but that also hadn’t already been used in other publications.  For this, we had the assistance from a wonderful image researcher, Sarah Cleaver, who did an amazing job.  I think the main challenge was retaining the clean, dispassionate visual language of the brand but still producing a book that was interesting to see.  Hopefully we succeeded.

What are some of your future plans…do you still enjoy working in fashion?

At the moment with the way the world is, I haven’t made any major plans.  I take each day as it comes.  I still very much enjoy working with Stone Island, they are a fantastic company to work for.  But to be honest, I’ve rather fallen out of love with fashion and magazines.  I have stopped shooting fashion editorials as I find that the parameters magazines set and the adherence to credits that they impose are too stifling.  Perhaps I am just getting too old for all of that.  We’ll see what happens!


The ultimate guide to Emily In Paris’ characters

Released a few weeks ago whilst quickly entering the top ten most viewed programmes on Netflix, Emily in Paris got people talking immediately, attracting lots of criticism for the representation of the Ville Lumière and its inhabitants, judged excessively stereotypical (clichés, indeed, are not lacking, although the production has made it clear how unavoidable they are given the plot, which tells the story of an American girl who came to Paris for the first time) and just as many mentions for the colourful outfits. The clothes are the work of costume designer Patricia Field, who was already the creator of Ugly Betty‘s wardrobes and, above all, Sex and the City’s.

A less investigated aspect, on the other hand, is that of the male characters, since they are the ones who steal the scene. Of course, the Emily Cooper of the title, aka Lily Collins, her deputy Sylvie (Philippine Leroy- Beaulieu) and all the other women in the casting. And yet some of the men deserve a more in-depth look at start with Gabriel, a chef as charming as he is skilful at preparing tartare de veau, divided, sentimentally speaking, between the lead role (and neighbour) Emily and her friend, as well as her girlfriend, Camille. The 32-year-old Lucas Bravo, a model, was chosen to interpret it, who boasts of participations in soaps such as Sous le soleil and Plus belle la vie, which are quite popular in France. In this case, the fashion component is kept to a minimum (tight t-shirts, pastel sweatshirts, dark coats, denim jackets, evergreen combination of leather and t-shirts).

Credits Photo 2: Joséphine Leddet x Schon Magazine


It’s impossible not to mention Julien, Emily’s colleague at the Paris marketing agency Savoir, who is a permanent member of the blasé and prone to judge sarcastically what surrounds him. He is the most fashionable, fully dressed at work as on other occasions. His is a style with strong colours, sophisticated: he prefers suits brushed on, in classic colours (brightened up, however, by shirts, jackets in vitaminic colours) or, on the contrary, rather whimsical, covered by large graphics and patterns, sometimes accessorised with brochettes pinned to lapels and necklaces jewellery. Alternatively, polo shirts with bright nuances (like the blue polo shirt by Paul Smith of the latter episode), bomber, satin varsity jacket. Julien is impersonated by Samuel Arnold, a former professional dancer, a Parisian who moved to Paris some time ago to London, where in 2018 he starred at the National Theatre in the play Antony and Cleopatra.

Another prominent male figure is that of William Abadie, a 47-year-old French actor who trained at the Actors’ Theatre. A New York studio, whose filmography includes serials such as Gossip Girl, Gotham and Homeland. In addition, he is an experienced athlete whose specialties range from marathon to triathlon and is regularly involved in sports. His alter ego on the screen is Antoine Lambert, founder of the haute parfumerie brand. Maison Lavaux – one of Savoir’s biggest clients – as well as lover of Emily Sylvie Grateau’s boss.  Another role played by Abadie is of a gregarious and unleavened man, tightly knit in tailored suits with a cut impeccable, completed with tie and a rigorous pochette.


Charles Martins, on the other hand, is Mathieu Cadault, the archetype of the successful businessman. A Latin lover in the company of celebrities and movie stars, manager of the high fashion brand Pierre Cadault, a fictional Maison presented in the series as an emblem of Parisian chic (one of the best scenes is, in fact, the one in which the designer of the same name moves around noting the heart-shaped charms and Tour Eiffel, which the sudden role keeps in view on the bag). Given the profession, it is obviously very elegant: in the course of the episodes she shows three pieces of tweed dresses, geometrically patterned scarves, sartorial overcoats, cache-col laid with studied nonchalance along the lapels and so on.

Despite the small amount of time of the respective characters, we can finally mention Roe Hartrampf a.k.a. Doug, Emily’s boyfriend (who actually ceases to be so at the beginning of the series), at the American boy all work and cheer for the Chicago Cubs, and Eion Bailey, interpreter of Randy Zimmer.

the top 6 series tv not to miss

By now TV series are an indisputable part of our lives. We come home from work, lie on the couch, unplug, tune in and away we go. Before the dawn of WebTV, there would be a weekly rendezvous at our friend’s house, the one with the satellite dish. These days, especially since the arrival of Netflix, we can happily watch our favourite show whenever we want. Let’s see which series will keep us glued to the screen in the coming months.

Speaking of Netflix, it’s impossible not to highlight the success of legal drama Suits, now up to its sixth season in Italy (the seventh is under work in The US). A show with a strong focus on style, as well as the usual relationship twists and disputes, all within a law firm in New York. Already the title of the show gives away one of the passions of the main character: the classic business suit, impeccably styled by lawyer Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht), who never appears without his white pocket square. Another reason to watch the show is Meghan Markle. The future princess (in real life, the girlfriend of Prince Harry) plays Rachel Elizabeth Zane, an assistant at Pearson & Hardman, the law firm around which the story revolves. About the new episodes coming up, Gabriel Macht says “the story is taking a very real turn, viewers won’t be seeing “super hero” lawyers anymore but normal people with their same problems, facing real issues.”

Another cult series to watch (or rewatch, in case you missed the first two seasons) is Twin Peaks. Exclusive to Sky Atlantic, the third chapter from the genius mind of David Lynch, carries on 25 years after the second season’s conclusion. Amongst the 217 cast members, we find old and new faces (like Monica Bellucci) and the always elegant special agent Dale Cooper, with his unmistakable dark suit and white shirt. After unmasking Laura Palmer’s killer, almost 30 years after, the agent will have to confront new supernatural phenomena, as they return to haunt the forests surrounding Twin Peaks. We won’t say anymore, knowing how much fans hate spoilers and knowing Lynch, there will be plenty of new dramatic twists. And then some: “I couldn’t help but putting out there, Twin Peaks was living in my subconscious. I have no intention to end it here” shares the director. Should we expect a fourth season?

Also signed Sky is the series that enchanted millions of Italian fans, Game of Thrones. The on screen adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s novels Songs of Ice and Fire has reached its seventh season, which we’ll be able to watch in July, at the same time as American audiences. These seven new episodes will prelude to the grand finale, expected for 2018, when the wars to conquer the Throne of Westeros will end.

As always the backdrops will be incredibly majestic: the filming took place during the cold seasons between Northern Ireland, Spain and Iceland. We can say it now, winter is definitely upon us. And so says Jon Snow, played by Kit Harrington, “this seventh season will be the the darkest and bleakest for the characters, before we reach the happy ending, if we can call it that, of the final season”.

One series (this one on Netflix) that started off as a slow burner and has slowly earned a huge following is Stranger Things. At first viewing it appears as a show catering to young adults, only because the characters are young. But the horror vibes, intense drama and setting – a fictional town in Indiana in the 80’s – make for mature viewing, not too different from the above mentioned Twin Peaks, starting from the very eerie soundtrack. The second season is set to air on Halloween, so there’s still time to put the popcorn in the microwave and grab your spot in the couch. Meanwhile, to get into the mood you can put on your check flannel shirts, the characters favourite item of clothing. The detective boys return to further investigations, because as the creators Matt and Ross Duffer assure “we have only just opened the curtains on the ‘Upside Down’ place and now we want to explore it”. Fans are advised, new mysteries and new creatures lie waiting. 

Lovers of political and power intrigues must not miss House of Cards. Also by Sky Atlantic this started in end of May, so you’re still in time to catch it on NowTV, Sky’s excellent WebTV. The new 13 episodes from the 5th season, take off from where we left at the end of last year when the president of the USA, Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and the First Lady Claire had said farewell to the public with the lines: “we don’t suffer terror, we create terror”. In these new episodes, Underwood will exploit the fear of his citizens to obtain more votes. In a recent interview Spacey declared, “what’s interesting is that those watching the show a few years ago were thinking ‘hell, this is crazy. It could never happen”. And 18 months later they were thinking “wait a minute, the events in House of Cards could really happen. Or they already are.’ I think we’re more terrified than ever.”

Another hugely awaited series is Mindhunters, on Netflix starting October. We couldn’t but have great expectations coming from the director of House of Cards, Seven and Zodiac! The show is set in 1979 and centres on agent Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) who, together with partner Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) tries to dig deep in the mind of serial killers to solve cases. A sort of cauldron within which they blended Lie to Me, True Detective and Criminal Minds, resulting in what experts are calling a fascinating voyage in the mind of assassins. It’s bound to be a huge success and a second season has already been signed, before the first one has officially aired.

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