We talk to the London designer about his first collection as part of Moncler Genius, where he joins Pierpaolo Piccioli, Simone Rocha and Craig Green as part of an A-team of collaborators
Richard Quinn has had a busy week: on Tuesday afternoon he presented his Autumn/Winter 2019 collection at London Fashion Week, to glowing praise; on Wednesday morning, he flew to Milan to present another – his first collection as part of Moncler Genius, the Italian brand’s multi-collection, multi-designer project. When we talk he is in the airport, about to board a flight home. “I think I’m going to stay in bed for the next three days,” he laughs.
“One house, different voices,” goes the motto for Moncler Genius, now a year old and in its third season, which invites an A-team of designers from around the world to interpret Moncler’s house codes: namely, the brand’s signature down puffa jackets, first conceived in 1952. Quinn, who makes his Genius debut this season, joins a line-up which includes fellow London designers Craig Green and Simone Rocha, as well as Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino, Matthew Williams of 1017 Alyx 9SM, Fragment’s Hiroshi Fujiwara and Palm Angels’ Francesco Ragazzi. Each presents a collection for the project, alongside new offerings from Moncler Grenoble and Moncler 1952, the house’s existing brands, and Poldo Dog Couture (yes, a Moncler collection for dogs). “Everyone has a really genuine input,” says Quinn of the project.
Quinn, a graduate of London’s Central Saint Martins – he also grew up in the city, in Lewisham – has been celebrated for his print-rich collections which draw upon the excess and grandeur of haute couture, albeit delivered with a subversive bent (his most recent saw gimp-suit-esque black latex bodysuits worn beneath the gowns; previously, he has swathed models entire bodies, including their faces, in fabric). Instant world renown followed an appearance from the Queen at his A/W18 show (a friend texted him from New York saying his name on was on a news billboard just hours afterwards); the next season, in his down-to-earth manner, he invited students from his former school to take her place.
Quinn came to join Moncler’s unique line-up after CEO Remo Ruffini, who began Moncler Genius, saw Quinn’s clothing during a visit to London boutique MACHINE-A. He promptly organised a visit to meet the designer at his Peckham studio, which doubles as a print hub for various other London labels, including Charles Jeffrey, Dilara Findikoglu and JW Anderson. Quinn took little persuading to take part. “At that point the previous Genius collection had come out, so we already knew that they were on the money on terms of listening to people’s ideas and letting their creativity flow,” he says. “There wasn’t much print in the [Genius] collection before, so I think they wanted that input – we tried to add a really saturated version of it.”
The resulting collection, shown in Milan on Wednesday in one of the vast railway tunnels north of the central station (complete with floor-to-ceiling floral decoration designed by Quinn), was in many ways a parallel to the collection he had shown in London the day prior – the timeline had been the same, he said, particularly when it came to producing the prints. But where his eponymous collection had found volume in an excess of fabric – trapeze coats, balloon hems and puff sleeves – here, it came from Moncler’s lightweight down, formulated into voluminous opera coats printed with daisies or leopard spots. A sportier note was struck with thigh-high puffer-boots, and gloved body suits, some with matching helmets – “we’d been looking at a lot of this old ski-wear from the 60s,” he explains.
“The nice thing about the project is that it feels like a collaboration between everyone, everyone has a different vision,” Quinn says. Accordingly, Rocha imagined Girl Guides in romantic embellished puffer-capes among a forest of silver birch trees, Green proposed ultra-lightweight garments that could fold down into a single square, while Piccioli collaborated with model Liya Kebede (who helms socially conscious Ethiopian brand Lemlem) on a series of gowns that echoed the majesty of his haute couture collections for Valentino. “There’s definitely a freedom to create what you want,” says Quinn. “Nothing feels like a compromise.”