British designer Fred Butler is London’s burgeoning modern day pop artist. A maker of eccentric accessories, Technicolor prop displays and set styling, her first fashion collection was shortlisted for the British Council’s UKYFE award and soon thereafter she made the BFC’s New Gen collective. Following in the footsteps of former mentor and popular set designer Shona Heath, Butler’s abstract interpretations straddle fashion and art, but her creative reach extends much, much farther.
Butler’s collaborative efforts with celebrities and global brands encompass a dynamic portfolio of carefree imagination. To date, she has been commissioned by iconic companies like Swatch, Samsung and Mini, and has worked on projects such as a large scale cover for cult magazine VOLT, which featured elements of Swarovski Crystal and was exhibited in the London store. More recently, Butler collaborated with Havaiana to design fascinators topped with colorful flip flops that were showcased at Britain’s annual Ascot race. Her exceptional fashion medleys have also led to commissioned projects with prominent figures as well as bespoke pieces for Selfridges and Jefferson Hack’s Dazed & Confused.
Well-connected in the music scene, Butler also works with leading artists known for their dramatic attire—from Bjork to newcomer Nicki Minaj and fellow libertine Beth Ditto. Butler’s blue telephone headpiece was also featured in Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” music video. She also has her hands in fashion films, which have appeared in film festivals from Paris to Milan and London.
Butler’s s/s ’12 collection, dubbed “Sonic Sinuate Supertemporal Sequestador,” featured a four-part sound installation by singer/songwriter Patrick Wolf and collaboration with Sonos. The sound stage set the euphonious backdrop to her aquatic inspired accessories collection. Studying the fluorescent bodies of deep sea creatures, Butler adapted her subject into illuminating hats, caged masks and booming body pieces. Implementing basketry, she also bound and molded ivory cane into elaborate headpieces—as seen in the Alice band mask of veiled piping, which created a rainbow of colors over the model’s face. Another standout piece is a metallic disc of hand-painted silk with a fluid set of cane piping, which gives the illusion of guitar strings in a nod to Wolf.
Her abbreviated clothing collection is a creative display of volume and texture, but also boasts Butler’s charisma for prop design and a psychedelic use of color. She reworks scrunchies, that undeniably ‘90s classic hair accessory, into a twisting large-scale scarf. A fitted neon orange neoprene playsuit and Oceana blue jacket, meanwhile, are fastened with brightly colored soft fabrics carefully wrapped around slinking rings that add movement and rotundity to sleeves. The collaboration with Wolf created an original presentation environment that realized Butler’s passionate belief in experiencing multi-sensory fashion in a marriage of color, texture, sound, mood and concept. This collection juxtaposes some of her largest and most magnificent showpieces with her first true commercial line, cleverly infusing both with Butler’s unique and unmistakable aesthetic in her most comprehensive collection to date.