That artist Donald “Drawbertson” Robertson is constructing an entire fashion conceit out of indehiscent fruit is both testament to his genius skill and proof that he is absolutely right: fashion is nuts! There is something quite meta, a mite self-referential, about the entire endeavour: only a nut would dream up the idea of immortalizing the zeitgeists of style and fashion in pastiches of walnuts, paint and gaffer tape. As direct metaphor, witty pun, and visual idiom, this fashion “conspiracy”, as the creators have oft called it,– the brain fruit of Robertson, swiss-born and internationally acclaimed photographer Henry Leutwyler, designer Ruba Abu-Nimah and blogger Karl Cyprien– is up there with the rest of them in nutty endeavours.
From Suzy Menkes, sporting her signature swooped coiffure to Diana Vreeland making an art of elegant yet pointed irreverence; between Simon Doonan’s spectrum of brightly-coloured shirts that would be garrulous if shirts could talk (and his certainly do make a statement!) and Lagerfeld’s omnipresent yet quiet black gloves (not to mention, his cat, Choupette), little is needed to evince the notion that the fashion world spins because of the whirling dervishes that are its driving force. They are all nuts, the fashion ilk– literally–and a selection of this fun and kooky bande à part are stripped down to their quintessence by Robertson’s art.
This iteration of the nuts (and bolts), both fresh and seasoned, of the fashion machine gradually unfolded on Instagram, where “Drawberston,” known for his ability to create visual symploce that is decadent in colour yet minimalist in line, boasts a following of over 120, 000. He and his collaboators began by sharing cryptically intriguing posts to whet our appetites, and soon it soon become clear that Robertson would be publishing a 40 page zine of his crunchy creations as well as printing posters of his painted and tape-sculpted nuts ranging from Saint-Laurent’s enigmatic Hedi Slimane to the “alpha nut” herself, Anna Wintour. Of how the nuts came to be nuts, Robertson is quoted by pagesix.com: “We had nuts over Christmas and didn’t have a nutcracker… I had run out of paper one day”. So, as one who will, as he admits via his Instagram account, that he will “draw on anything,” , he went [for the] nuts!
Clearly, he knows his nuts in a way only a fellow nut could. The simulacra Robertson has fashioned are striking in their resemblance to their true-life inspiration. Chanel the “Coconut” is distinctively Gaberielle, with her flippantly perched cigarette and serious countenance (though an Instagram user pointed out that the Coco nut could pass for Galliano and I am inclined to agree—Galliano holds his own well enough as the “nineties cracker”); it is not just fiery mane of orange tape that distinguishes Vogue’s Grace Coddington as Grace: her essence is etched into the nut. From a bag of nearly-homogeneous nuts, Robertson divines and celebrates individuality.
In the words of the artist’s daughter, Drue Robertson, “Whether it’s Edie Campbell dressed in nothing but body paint and a headdress, or Iris Apfel sitting front row wearing her signature glasses and dressed in red fur, fashion is, and has always been wondrously mad”. There is a nut or two in Robertson’s book for all of us nuts (I’m partial to Coconut myself, for reasons beyond my August 19th birthday, and to certain tortured Algerian nut as well)…and a looney reminder for any and all of us who feel like children of the moon, that we all have a tribe out there, an idea not only illustrated by the contents of the book, but underscored by the collaboration of like minds it took to grow this project from seed to fruition. If you need any more evidence of just how deliciously nutty the world of fashion is, look no further than the exclusive interview project Fashion is Nuts! collaborator and designer, Ruba Abu-Nimah, granted The Ecstatic Flash:
TEF: How would you characterize the “conspiracy” that is “Fashion is Nuts”?
RA: We don’t believe in conspiracy theories.
TEF: From where did the idea for the project come?
RA: Whole Foods
TEF: What role has each of you played in the collaborative process?
RA: We are an Anarcho Syndicalist Commune
TEF: How do you go about selecting which fashion zeitgeists to nutify?
RA: We inspect each nut carefully
TEF: Who is your target audience and what is your overall goal for the project?
RA: Other nuts.
TEF: How have social media (and Instagram specifically) been employed in the transposition of concept to reality of this project?
TEF: Do you have a personal nutty fashion experience or experience with a fashion nut to share?
RA: 20 years in the industry cannot be summed up in one nut.
TEF: Who is your favourite nut and why?
RA: We love all nuts equally.
TEF: Would you describe yourself as a nut? How so, if so?
TEF: There is a nice double entendre of nut one cannot help but notice: nut can be a synonym for crazy both in the sense of “cuckoo” and also with the connotation of unbridled passion, qualities that seem essential in fashion pacesetters. What in your opinion is the common thread that binds successful fashion personalities together? What quality is shared by all your “nuts”?
RA: We use only the highest quality walnuts.
The book, Fashion is Nuts!, and posters, as well as postcards produced by concept French retailer, Colette, all featuring the highest quality walnuts are now available for purchase at http://www.fashionisnuts.com. Go nuts, guys!
“We are all born mad. Some of us remain so” – Samual Beckett