Written by Lewis Cameron
When an interview you are conducting begins with the words “I hate interviews and I rarely do them”, your heart dies a little inside. You think to yourself, “Oh shit. This is going to be a tough one.” followed by “WTF do I ask as my opening question!?!?”. The answer is “Who are your personal heroes and icons?”. I know, I’m really lame. But thankfully, designer extraordinaire and menswear legend Philip Normal humoured me/took pity on me and decided to stick around to chat, in what I’d like to call ‘legitimate downtime’. Told you I was lame.
His answer to my question was the most perfect answer anyone could give, his friend Adam who helped him out in an emergency situation involving Philip’s dog, his life and world, aka Noah. I followed this up with the bog standard “Who inspires you in terms of fashion?”. Say this outload with Miranda Priestly in mind please. I know, shoot me now. Philip’s response, “I don’t really look at fashion.” That’s all.
Philip did however elaborate, “I take massive inspiration from pop culture and art. I do enjoy Commes des Garcon. But that’s art and not fashion specific.” Something which resonates in every corner, every shelf and every rail of the colourful and fantastically, energetic Brixton based shop. Complete with a certain Scott Humphreys, a vivacious personality with a love for lip-syncing, designer underwear, taking selfies and being a tad raunchy every now and then over on Instagram. (Check him out @shhumphreys). Brightening up the place with his friendly and Girls Aloud loving ways. The tight fitting, baby pink, jogging bottoms he was wearing were an added bonus. Seriously. Instagram. Now.
It’s not all fun and games at Philip Normal HQ, as there’s some serious thought going into every design under his t-shirt dangling roof. Mainly, his ability to take pop culture iconography and political upheaval and transform it into hilarious, comedic and oh so delicious, wearable art. Which, FYI, I’m referring to as the stuff of Cher’s dreams.
“I always played around with being non-gender specific in my work. I got really sick of all this judgemental functionalism within the gay community. This pseudo-masculine idea of someone who isn’t as straight-acting as someone else, that they should be looked down upon for that, is just ridiculous.
There are many sides to Philip Normal, but two major elements are politics and playful masculinity, effortlessly pushing the boundaries of sexuality and social stigmas. And having tons of craic while he’s at it. (Craic is defined as the Irish term for banter. Banter being major LOLz.)
“The ability to make fun of that, is funny. People take themselves way too seriously and we need to have fun with what we wear. The notion that someone is better than someone else because they are more masculine is absurd. We should be celebrating who we are and sticking together...”
“...one of my life philosophies is that if you can’t make fun of something then you can’t be taken seriously.”
QUICK FIRE WITH PHILIP NORMAL
What makes someone an icon?
The ability to move with the times, to evolve and grow and to stay relevant.
I’ve always been political. I’ve always enjoyed politics. I’m quite a reactionary person and in such dark political times, I’m using print as a tool for communication. I’m also a Candidate in the Labour Party in the next election. I’ve been a labour activist for many years, so for me it’s the next step.
Thoughts on Donald Trump?
He’s vile. This rise in right-wing populism is no joke. It’s incredibly dangerous and it’s winning. The people being tricked into voting for them are going to end up worse off. It’s disgusting.
Describe the Philip Normal in one word?
Reactionary. I’m quite niche but accessible at the same time.
Favourite Hero inspired item in the shop right now?
Justin Trudeau t-shirt. He’s really hot. He’s my new hero actually.
If you could dress one hero in a Philip Normal design?
Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama.
Superman is hot. And his heart is in the right place. Oh and Angel from X-Men...the guy who played Peter Beale in Eastenders. Who killed Lucy was literally what was going through my mind in the cinema when I saw him on screen. I also like Captain Planet.
Why are people connected to Philip Normal?
Because there is so much thought behind why I make something, it plays on relevant and emotional times. Having a major take on pop culture in the way that we do through our collaborations with the tremendously talented Jock Mooney inspire and capture people’s ideas. He’s another hero to me actually. Heroes are real people. People who I know, who I think are just fantastic, people who I really respect.
Favourite moment so far
I’ve not peaked yet.
in exclusive for The Pink Prince #002 Hero.
Photography: Claudio Harris Model: Charlie Buirski Styling: Lewis Cameron
Cher T-shirt by Philip Normal in collaboration with Jock Mooney. White lace choker FOREVER21. Mohair jumper by Scotch & Scoda.
Bey-Ra T-shirt by Philip Normal in collaboration with Jock Mooney. Snakeskin lycra top HOUSE OF HOLLAND X UMBRO. Sunglasses available at Philip Normal. Necklace BOBBY ABLEY .
Justin Trudeau T-shirt by Philip Normal. Cher jumper by Philip Normal. Batman bum-bag available at Philip Normal. Snakeskin printed shorts HOUSE OF HOLLAND X UMBRO.
Follow @philipnormal over on Instagram. Shop Philip Normal’s designs online at www.philipnormal.co.uk and visit the store at No. 45 Brixton Village.