Enter the poetic and violent world of Parsons BFA Fashion student Andrew Curwen
Solving the mystery behind the work of Parsons BFA junior-year student Andrew Curwen, and his persona, is not an easy task. The lines between his personal life and his design can become so blurry that at times it’s difficult to distinguish the two. Andrew, who describes himself as ‘married to his work’, is a hopeless romantic. “Romance is always the heart of what I do,” he says candidly, just before Valentine’s Day this weekend. Love and death seem to be recurring motifs in his garments, which give a sense of what could be described as feminine brutality, and he admits: “people should fear the women I dress.”
The chaos of the human psyche is often his main source of inspiration, drawing from people’s adversities and passions. A habitué of the underground night scene (although his friends need to smuggle him in as he’s still legally underage in America), Andrew talks about finding a tribe of people who are not scared to “let their most honest self shine”. He describes how people ‘glow up’ when they take off their masks and conquer “the fear of persecution from a narrow-minded society.”
“I DESIGN FOR POSTERITY. IT’S NOT ABOUT MONEY; IT’S ABOUT MY GENUINE AND VISCERAL LOVE OF FASHION.”
What is your creative process like, and how do you make sure you feel inspired every day?
Research is the start for me. I’ll spend days in libraries buried in books, it is a little escape from the world. Then I’ll drape and sketch simultaneously, once I have an idea of what I am looking to evoke. That is probably the fastest part of the process, because by the time I have finished research, I’ll have far too many ideas, so getting them down is more or less a ‘brain vomit’. Then comes the editing, and I’ll often redraw or redrape some of my favorite looks a number of times.
What do you do when inspiration is hard to come by?
Inspiration and ideas are a constant for me, like the white noise of New York’s streets. It can be a bit of a bitch sometimes, because it won’t let me sleep if I have a new idea that I haven’t gotten down on paper yet. I also have very vivid dreams, which lead me to wake up in the middle of the night to jot them down on anything within an arm’s reach. If I ever feel like I am not inspired, then that is a sign that I am editing too much in my head, and that I need to stop over thinking. I feel that is the case with most artists. Art is an instinct that requires the artist to trust themselves.
You said you’re often buried underneath books, what are you reading at the moment?
I just finished reading ‘An Unquiet Mind’ by Kay Redfield Jamison. While in between books, I am rereading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Why do you think so many creatives are drawn to NYC?
There is a certain energy in New York. The song ‘New York, New York’ by Frank Sinatra gives a decent description of New York’s magnetism. Anyone who has great nerve, thick skin and a brain, can find magic in New York. This is the city that never sleeps. There are people here from all walks of life, and no other place in the world has this diversity of people living in such a small space. The architecture and skyline is beautiful, but it’s the people of New York that make it special.
What other career would you see yourself pursuing if you were not studying at Parsons?
Parsons or not, I would still be doing fashion. But if fashion were out of the picture, I would be a film director or producer.
What are your planning for the future?
I am going to do ‘me’. It will be something of a fashion house, but not in the way the existing industry expects. I will never have a perfume line. Quality over quantity. People should not be discarding my clothes after one or two seasons. I design for posterity. I want my shows to be where my narrative is most clear; the shows will be a large part of my house. It is not about money, it is about my genuine and visceral love of fashion.
Follow Andrew on Instagram @andrewcurwen
Words Francesco Guelpa