Brother Journal ︎ up -to-date info and resources ︎
Brother Journal ︎ up -to-date info and resources ︎
PLANET BROTHER ︎
MODEL STORIES #02: BESSIE MAE ARMITAGE
There’s a chill in the air, which means it’s about time to wrap up warm. The best way to approach this is by draping yourself in a statement coat. Who needs layers of long sleeves and thermals when you’ve got a floor length Dior or a Maxmara number to cocoon you walking the high roads? The Brother winter coat drop incorporates all your favourites. 100% wool trenches, windbreakers and a pea green padded pea coat to make you feel just a little like you’re still in bed. Don’t worry, these can be worn all year round by everyone.
At Brother, we believe all clothes are for all people, so we like to use people from our community to showcase them. For our coat drop, we collaborated with Bessie Mae, designer and techno enthusiast who is also one of the co-founders of Tech Couture, one of the most exciting up-and-coming events in London. Read our interview with her, and of course shop the coat drop here.
How did Brother find you?
I was bumming around We Work and came across the shop. I’d just seen the Sweet Harmony exhibition at the Saatchi and I saw you had some of Molly’s [Macindoe] stuff that was in the exhibition and I was just incredibly nostalgic for a time that I was not a part of whatsoever! I was there in spirit. You [Tash] were there and we were talking about our hobbies and interests and work overlaps, with music and graphic design and running parties and all the rest of it. I was obsessed with the Magaluf Eytys lookbook. I left without buying it and I couldn’t stop thinking about it! So I messaged you and said ‘Don’t give it to anyone else because I’m coming back’ that’s just the way I shop, apparently; I’m obsessed with it, so surely everyone else is going to be obsessed with it too, I better run and get it before anyone else does.
It was a very sticky book! Sticky on purpose.
Definitely sticky on purpose! To represent the sticky floors in Magaluf.
Where are you based?
I’ve been in Dalston for the last couple of years. For some god awful reason my first year back to London after uni I was in Elephant and Castle, very odd, but I was a regular attender at Corsica, so that was great. If you’re gonna live there, there’s nothing else. We’d have our morning coffee on a sunday and roll up to the Sunday party, Jaded. We did that almost every sunday so it was a year well spent. The last couple of years I’ve been in Dalston which was amazing and chaotic. Just off Ridley Road Market and now I’m in Stoke Newington so it’s a lot more calm, but I was born in Brixton so I’ve spent sooo much time South of the river I don’t want to be there any more! My dad was driving me up from Elephant & Castle to Dalston when we moved in and he’s been in Brixton his whole adult life! Since he was… well, he was born and raised in Sheffield, my nan came over with the Windrush generation so then he moved to Brixton. It was the place to be then, he was driving me up to Dalston two years ago saying ‘Why do you want to live here? It’s awful up here!’ I was like ‘your eyes are closed, why do you want to live there?!’
Bessie wears vintage 80’s pink overcoat
“That’s what Tech Couture is, its fabulous and feisty. Wear some stomping boots because your feet are likely to get trodden on but bring out the Helmut Lang!”
The amount of kids seen walking their bemused middle class parents around Dalston who are obviously just thinking ‘why on earth do you want to live here?’
Yeah my boyfriend's parents are middle Easten, but they spent their formative years in New York so when they came here they were like ‘oooh, it’s like Brooklyn in the 80s!’
What do you think about London as a creative city?
London itself is my home. I was born here. Even though I was raised in Brighton I was always here, so I know it, I feel it. I’ve got quite a mixed background. My dad was a Rastafarian, my mum was born in Chelsea but she was a bit of a rebel and a runaway so I’m like very much a mix of lots of different things.
What was your mum running away from?
She was running from the Kings Road and living in squats in Brixton and meeting my dad and working at bike shops and that sort of thing. The kings road back then was a very different place but it was still Chelsea. She ran away from that and met my dad which I’ve always loved, so London for me is so mixed I feel very at home and nostalgic and connected to lots of different places and communities here. I feel just at home at the RA library as I do in Brixton market. I appreciate lots of different parts of it whereas I think its very easy to stay in one place and just get to know one place. I would really love to be everywhere and feel very connected to it. There’s nowhere else like London. There’s things I’d like to change, would I like the clubbing scene to be a bit more like Berlin? Of course I would. Would I like the summer weather to be more consistent? Yes. But, as a capital city, one of the best in the world. If you don’t get overwhelmed by it and you take it all in your stride, there is so much going on, so much inspiration.
Bessie wears ‘80s black rain coat
Bessie wears Syncro funnel neck overcoat
Give us your life story
On paper I’m a graphic designer and by night, party promoter, creative director, curator of this platform Tech Couture - equal parts feisty and fabulous! For the last few years I’ve been a bit of a sponge to culture, sounds cliche but music, art and fashion have been a trifecta of things I need in my life to be happy. They’re all equally important to me and sometimes I wonder how maybe, fickle I am that I just love clothes so much but I do, it’s an expression. When I was a teenager I was working in a photography studio on and off and working at festivals and stuff and then I studied History of Art at Edinburgh, then when I left Edinburgh I went straight into fashion and I was running a studio which was a completely different world. For the last two or three years I’ve sort of traversed and I am doing a lot of freelance graphic design stuff in those fashion/art fields.
Any interesting clients?
I am currently at the apex of designing this magazine, it’s called Wave. Me and a good friend, another designer, designed the last issue and we’re doing the latest one now, so that’s a really nice fun project on the side. It’s always nice to have the passion projects alongside the regular clients. I’ve also just finished another project working for a lovely studio called ‘Taking Up Space’, they work with a lot of female focused organisations and we help people with branding and how they look to the outside world, cause obviously that is so important, getting funding or getting support, but it’s often looked at as a luxury item. At the end of the day, that’s how you’re going to get money. A lot of organisations and community lead projects don't have the budget for that. It’s the sister studio to Narrate studio, which I also work with.
You run a night called Tech Couture, can you tell us about it?
We wanted to dress up and wear our Sunday Best to every night, and that’s what Tech Couture is, it’s fabulous and feisty. Wear some stomping boots because your feet are likely to get trodden on but bring out the Helmut Lang! Tech Couture is our baby and our creative outlet and it’s been quite a hard year planning so much for it and being so incredibly excited for all the parties we were going to put on then not having that final release. It’s like having blue balls. We were running nights before that, my partner and I, but the nights before didn’t really have a creative vision but with Tech Couture we’ve put a lot of work into it and hope that one day it will be more than what it is now. It’s an amazing experience to do it because the people we’ve brought together, the vibe we’ve created, the punters that come to the parties, it really is like no other. It’s so mixed and so eclectic, there are so many different types of people and I hate to be biased but it’s the best night I’ve ever been to! Everyone's dancing, everyone’s smiling, everyone’s friendly, everyone’s feeling themselves. It’s just so good.
Bessie wears: Jones NY metallic rain mac
It sounds like such an incredible thing you’ve created and I can’t wait to buy a ticket. It’s really important that people pay for these things so that they can happen! Do you get lots of mates being like ‘plus one?’
Absolutely! I know. We at least will break even, but for us it’s not even about the money at this point it's just about putting on a great party. We were bored of the scene, it was a bit stale. The beauty of this is that I can curate the line up. It’s a couture line up, they really are the best of the best. We think really carefully about who we want to bring and the kind of people they will attract. We go for the sound, but most of the artists we’ve brought in have been female which is nice, a bit planned but a bit not planned.
Bessie wears: Nuage cream ‘power’ mac
How do you go about creating a line up?
You want to find that comfortable balance between making sure you’ve got a well rounded line up but also not having to think about it and I think that’s the same way I think about a lot of social issues now. We shouldn't have to talk about it anymore, things should have changed enough that this shouldn’t be at the forefront any more. The thing that should be at the forefront now is just the future. Now with 2020, everythings going to start changing with regards to who we’re booking and how much we’re paying for putting nights on. Maybe it’s going to democratise the scene a little bit more because I read articles or interviews from the 80’s, 90’s or even early noughties and people club hop! People used to club hop! You can’t do that now! Unless you’re putting on the night you gotta spend 20/30 quid on a ticket, I’m not doing that for each one! We’re really looking forward to championing home grown talent as well, because let’s be real I’m not going to be spending ridiculous money for a headliner, but people do expect to see a headliner! Do you want to sell tickets and get through the door? Because there’s a really good way of doing that and it’s: book a headliner. It’s going to be great to bring more home grown up and coming talent. That’s what we were doing in our early parties but now that travelling might be a bit more difficult, people are going to be desperate to play, it’s going to be a real leveller. People are also just gonna want to party.
How would you describe your style?
It’s a mess! It’s a mishmash of lots of different things. I don’t read my astrology chart every day but I’m a gemini and I do think the two sides of myself are constantly bashing heads. If I had to describe my style in five words, it would be tough but it would be 50% ratchet street wear raver, 50% classic feminine. I can be very tomboyish but some days I just want to wear a corset. It’s cliche but it's a constant evolution.
That feels like you’ve combined the masculine an feminine energy in a brilliant way, which brings us into genderless fashion.
I’m hugely in love and influenced by maculine 90s rappers with their oversized, extra extra large boxer shorts. Even though I don’t really wear them.
Have your ideas on non binary fashion changed?
I don’t think I belong to any sort of ideal way of thinking, I just really believe in wearing what you feel and I think everyone could do with a bit of cross dressing - not to plagiarize that word. I don’t really feel defined by one thing, it’s just don’t think about it. If you want to wear heels go for it. People aren’t second guessing it. They shouldn’t do it anyway. One of my good friends who comes to mind really does the whole non binary thing really well. He always looks so gorgeous and fantastic when we’re at festivals together. He loves a good Kaftan (and so do I) a Kaftan and a string of pearls but he still looks very masculine and greek god-like!
Bessie wears: Maxmara cream cocoon coat
Bessie wears Jones NY hooded wool overcoat
Bessie wears: Vintage Padded Peacoat
Bessie wears Aquascutum Caramel Wrap Wool Coat
Bessie wears Jacques Vert Pink Wool Coat
Bessie wears Katherine Hamnett Overcoat
Photos by @sarahvictoriabates
MUA by @keia.tamsin