As the heartbeat of The House Of Gerlan, Gerlan Marcel creates wearable art that you won’t find anywhere else. Although London born, she’s put down roots in Brooklyn and claims it as one of her many sources of inspiration. After training at the famed British design school Central St. Martins, she designed textiles for Jeremy Scott and collaborated with Patricia Fields before launching her namesake collection. Cut from the same cloth as designers such as Stephen Sprouse, Vivienne Westwood and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Marcel marches to the beat of her own drum. This independent irreverence is reflected in her Gerlan Jeans line, a “tongue-in-chic” collection of mostly printed sportswear that explodes with humor, social commentary and subversive symbols. The first collection debuted for autumn/winter ’10 and has already developed a cult following. In this installment of The Emerging Designers Series, we talk with Marcel about her unique vision, the importance of her infectious prints and the inspirations that fuel the genius behind Gerlan Jeans.
JC Report: What’s your design aesthetic?
Gerlan Marcel: Gerlan Jeans combines the accessibility, wearability and functionality of sportswear with self-expression and life celebration! It’s about spreading peace, love and unity through print and color. Gerlan Jeans is design with a message and it comes from the heart. It’s not only in the product but the process as well. It starts with the hand drawn image and a bespoke eye for detail. The spirit is artisanal but the product is still affordable.
JCR: Graphics are a large part of your aesthetic. What’s your relationship with graphic images and textiles?
GM: Print and color are one of the most powerful forms of communication. I like to make a statement without saying a word. I can’t imagine clothing without print and color. To me, they are synonymous. It’s not just about the flat 2D surface as decoration—I’m creating graphics that tell a story while flattering and enhancing the silhouette at the same time.
JCR: For someone who isn’t familiar with Brookyln’s unique and eclectic vibe, how would you describe its creative culture?
GM: Brooklyn is an inspired place. It’s the headquarters to an incredibly prolific and creative community of thinkers and doers. All doing it for themselves! It’s an empowering environment in which to create and collaborate.
JCR: What and who inspires you?
GM: I am energized and inspired by so many people, places and things, but music, rhythm and dance floor cultures are my constants. Still, my source of inspiration is constantly evolving and expanding, my brain is constantly buzzing—riding the subway, walking down 8th Ave, wandering around the traditional Polish neighborhood in Greenpoint where I live (oh the looks I get dressed in Gerlan!). I’m also inspired by unexpected places like the food court in a favorite mall or the airport waiting lounge at LAX. I have an affinity for underground reggae and hip-hop recording artists Patra, Lady Saw, Rye Rye and Trina as well as ’90s pop divas like Lady Miss Kier of Deee-Lite and Neneh Cherry are great style references. I also have a fondness for campy style icons like Dolly Parton, Fran Drescher and Bernadette Peters. And of course artists and designers, including Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf, Patrick Kelly, Isaac Mizrahi, Zandra Rhodes and Stephen Sprouse. However, it’s my incredibly talented friends, family and all things bright and colorful that will always inspire me to dream bigger!
JCR: How do you envision Gerlan Jeans evolving in the future?
GM: Gerlan Jeans is an attitude. Gerlan Jeans is a state of mind. Gerlan Jeans is a way of life. My mission is to make Gerlan Jeans accessible and affordable to all, in this galaxy and beyond! Coming soon: Gerlan Jeans Flagship Boutiques, Gerlan Jeans Home and Interiors, Gerlan Jeans Bambini and stay tuned for the Gerlan Jeans Runway World Tour, coming soon to a city near you. Let no surface be left unprinted!
This interview was conducted by Shane Ballard. Click on thumbnail to enlarge image.
All looks illustrated here are from Gerlan Jeans- Jeans & Satin Collection Spring/Summer 2011. http://gerlanjeans.com/
All images © Shane Ballard 2010. All rights reserved