The illustrateur sonore discusses collaborating with Mrs Prada and the afrobeat influences for Miu Miu A/W15
The soundtrack to a fashion show is an element that can completely transform the atmosphere of a collection, and Frederic Sanchez has spent his career as an illustrateur sonore collaborating with everyone from Margiela to Marc Jacobs to achieve maximum impact. Since 1994, he has worked with Miuccia Prada – and for Miu Miu A/W15, his mash-up of Afrobeat-inspired 80s classics like Talking Heads and the B-52s, combined with the faux advertisements that littered Sigue Sigue Sputnik's first album, gave a brilliant insight into the thought behind the collection.
"I work in a very special way with [Mrs Prada]," he explained. "It’s always very intimate. We speak a lot about very different things; what’s happening in music, what’s happening in the world in general. This season, there was this idea of a collection that was autumn/winter but with this idea of summer, and a certain idea of Africa – but Africa seen through the eyes of someone European. When we started talking about it, it reminded me of seeing that sort of thing happen in music at the beginning of the 80s."
The music of the early 80s – of Brian Eno and the B-52s, Talking Heads and David Byrne – was a time where Afrobeat and tropical influences were brilliantly combined with synthesisers. Eno and Byrne's trips across the ocean saw a new and devoted engagement to Afrorock'n'roll, to Fela Kuti and Faycal Helawi, and resulted in what Frederic Joignot and Jean-Pierre Lentin described in Actuel 1981 as a period that "sought fusion between the breaths of Africa and electronic technology."
As Sanchez explains, this issue of Actuel featured a cover with Brian Eno, David Byrne and Jon Hassell, "and the background was this piece called The Lighting Fields by Walter de Maria. It’s this giant structure in the middle of the mountains in New Mexico, with these poles that attract lightning and they set it almost on fire. You can go to see it, and it’s like seeing a living painting. So, I thought of those different elements – and then the Talking Heads record, Life In The Bush Of Ghosts, where David Byrne sampled different recordings from African radio, and made what became called world music. It became so trendy. And that was the idea of the show."
Combined with Sigue Sigue Sputnik's spoof advertisments for Tempo Magazine and EMI, the soundtrack also gave a hearty nod to the consumerism of the 80s (something clearly explored through the heavily-sparkling costume jewellery adorning the ears and necks of models). "The African elements, combined with electronica, became like an urban schizophrenia. So then, we thought of Sigue Sigue Sputnik who had all that fake advertising in their records," explains Sanchez. "And, you know the B-52s have that hairdo? I put the advertising for L'Oreal Shampoo right in the middle of their track. It's kind of mental... like a manipulation."
It is this wonderful sense of manipulation that arises throughout Sanchez' work; we are taken on a strange yet brilliant journey through not only his mind, but the mind of the designers with whom he collaborates. "Because of copyright issues, my work can't appear online," he laughs, "the rights would cost a fortune! But it makes the show quite special and unique. Maybe it’s the last thing that we can call haute couture..."
Track Listing for Miu Miu A/W15
Mea Culpa by Brian Eno & David Byrne
America Is Waiting by Brian Eno & David Byrne
The Jezebel Spirit by Brian Eno & David Byrne
One In A Lifetime by Talking Heads
Burning Down The House by Talking Heads
Deep Sleep by B-52s
Advertisement Tempo Magazine by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Advertisement Network 21 by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Advertisement Pure Sex by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Advertisement The Sputnik corporation by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Advertisement ID Magazine by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Advertisement Studio Line From L'Oréal by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Advertisement EMI records by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Advertisement Love Missile F1-11 by Sigue Sigue Sputnik