BEHIND THE BRAND: THE RODNIK BANDMay 16, 2014
On the surface, Philip Colbert is a bit of a conundrum. Is he a designer? An artist? A lo-fi, avant-garde, singer-songwriter? Well, it turns out – he’s all these things.
At its core, The Rodnik Band is a design house – dabbling with iconic pop art from the likes of Warhol and Dali to create statement fashion with tongue firmly in cheek. As his latest collab with cult comic Peanuts officially lands at UO, we got the lowdown on Peanuts, philosophy and pop art…
UO: Hey Philip – how did the Peanuts collaboration come about?
Philip: When I first read an email from them I thought they were an actual Peanut brand – as in the food. I really like peanuts in a pop art sense, but it felt random. Luckily, I realised it was the comic strip – they were looking to develop high-end creative projects and had seen some of my work.
UO: How do you think Peanuts fits in with your Pop Art aesthetic?
P: There’s so much nostalgia and sentimental attachment around Peanuts, and I felt the brand is yet to be recycled properly; it hasn’t really been revisited since the 1980s. The comedic spirit of my work fits well with the witty, playful side of the comic.
UO: You studied Philosophy before making your way into fashion. Does that influence your work?
P: Yes, all the Rodnik designs are philosophical in some way. It’s born from the idea that we have a slightly higher form of understanding in the world of fashion. Once you realise how absurd the fashion industry is, why take things so seriously? Reveling in this absurdity, in a humorous way, is a higher form of consciousness.
UO: Your collections could certainly be classed as works of art. Do you see yourself more as an artist than a designer?
P: I think of myself as a pop art designer. I’m more interested in the idea of making artwork a wearable item. It’s the same idea as owning an actual piece of art that you’d hang on your wall. You obtain a value from that, a source of entertainment.
The designs I make always somehow relate back to the narrative of pop art – although they are mostly surreal or funny, it always links back to my love of art.
UO: Have you ever been in the process of designing a new collection and thought, “Oh wait, I’ve gone too far”?
P: Not in terms of my design, but I’ve played it close to the line in other aspects of my work. I put together a guerilla fashion show at The National Gallery and was genuinely worried I might get arrested. I didn’t have permission and just invited everyone down to see our catwalk. Thankfully, the most the security could do was evict us – which they did – but in the end it actually created a really positive spirit.
UO: You certainly know how to get attention…
P: I don’t want to get credentials as a box-ticking brand. It’s suffocating as a designer to work within the typical realms of the fashion industry – so why play by the rules?
Designers collect celebrities to sit in their front rows at fashion week because they know tabloids will take pictures of these celebs, and their catwalk will make the front page. I thought it would be funny to take the piss out of this idea, so I created this ultimate spoof celebrity front row; it was all look-alikes of people like Elton John, Katy Perry, and the Queen. I asked them to behave in ridiculous ways, picking their nose and all that kind of thing. It was very fun.
UO: You have a series of songs that you’ve released with some of your collections. Is this a serious stab at the charts? Are you actually a real band?
P: Musically, I’m completely inept, and the songs are never going to be serious. A lot of designers can be boring in how they present their brand, walking out at the end of catwalks and giving a little wave. Being a fashion designer is fun – I want to treat it that way, taking the spirit of what we create and making it cohesive with all aspects of culture.
Click the pic below and shop the Rodnik x Peanuts collection.