Representing the creative future

Grand Theft Artist, Per Hansson

The RCA grad talks heavy metal, cowboys and Lamborghinis.

What do you get when you throw fast cars, cowboys and heavy metal into the mix? Aside from a would-be teenage dream, it’s a ‘space cowboy renting a Lambo’ of course. Because if not in a graduate collection, where else could these three elements go hand-in-hand?

Neoprene cowboy boots sauntered to the bass-heavy dance tracks that blasted from the speakers at Per Hansson’s RCA grad show “where off-kilter high hats chimed in intermittently.” Or at least that’s how Per described it. The bar where we were seated had transformed into a frame-by-frame catwalk of his MA collection. “This is the vibe I feel from the collection,” he explains as he launches into the influences that music played on his pieces. Hailing from a small town in Sweden, Per always had a penchant for music. Heavy metal was his genre of choice and if he wasn’t playing in his own band, he would either be at concerts or online, virtually experiencing them. “The pieces I designed are influenced by the types of clothing that you see people wear at mosh pits or those in the music circle,” he elaborates – which explains the distressed T-shirts that compliment his heavily zipper embellished trousers. The trousers, being the main focus of the collection, were designed to be interchangeable and convertible through a system of zippers that Per had skilfully situated. Zipping one up, the other down or all the way around would change the silhouette functioning as an interactive experience between the wearer and the garment.

As for the reasoning behind the bottom-heavy focus, Per’s forage into fashion sparked during his time working at a denim store in Sweden, “I became really nerdy about Japanese denim.” Naming off Japanese brands such as Sugar Cane and Iron Heart, Per explains that their take on the original Levi’s 501 jeans had instigated his love for denim and his personal trousers collection, now going strong at an even 50 pairs. Taking cues from these brands, Per’s trousers all took on the classic five-pocket design before revamping them accordingly.

“While working with unconventional cutting techniques and advanced zipper systems, it’s nice to keep a relatable reference. For me it still needs to be real and recognisable, that’s important to me. My aim was to create the perfect merge of a cargo trouser and the five pocket jeans.” Imbuing this mentality, Per worked with his own body. Putting on two layers of trousers, he started pinning zippers on and shifting their proportions. The two garments would be reworked into one.

The trousers were redrafted with a snakeskin print, paying homage to his favourite Grand Theft Auto character, Trevor Phillips. “That’s why I called it ‘Space Cowboy Renting a Lambo’ because the background of my shoot is inspired by Grand Theft Auto as are many of the pieces,” Per describes. The juxtaposition of the sleek and slick feel of the video game with the gritty nature of concert inspired uniforms was the building block of Per’s collection. The neoprene-covered cowboy boots were designed to mimic the glossy surface of designer cars while the ‘swoosh’ logo mimicked the shape of a guitar part.

With all these different components interacting with each other, it was no surprise that the pieces were designed to literally do just that. Whether you decided to keep the silhouette as a simple tapered leg for a fast getaway or unevenly unzipped for a night of raving; the interactive garments allowed for all eventualities. On the heavy juxtaposition, Per simply shrugs and states, “I like to take one archetype and merge it with another archetype.”