Aurora Ozma, self-proclaimed couturier, milliner and surrealist, has certainly turned a few feather-encrusted skull caps since being whipped up by prestigious London-based furriers Hockley at the tender age of 15. Ozma’s collection will go on display for the first time at the Blow Presents ceremony in February, kick starting a stratospherically promising year for the designer.
Take me through how you go about making the bizarre pieces you do.
For me, it’s a ritualistic, transient endeavour – I call it my witch-crafting. When I finish a piece, I’m truly spent – it really takes your blood, sweat and mind. It’s cathartic too, like prayer.
What have been your professional highlights of 2011?
The Sanderson hotel became my first stockist in October – I have a small, exclusive distribution of my headwear pieces with them, which is fantastic. The hotel space was designed by the amazing architect Philippe Starck and shares the Aurora Ozma surrealist, Cocteau dream-like sensibilities. I plan to explore ritualistic wear for the body next year, with views to exhibiting these works in September.
Your list of influences includes 19th century Russian portraiture and cosmology. Can you elaborate on this?
Yes – 19th century Russian paintings by the likes of Vrubel, Vasnetsov and Sadko, spanning the 1800s to the mid 1900s. They were all truly spellbinding, magical artists who created heartbreakingly delicate, beautiful interpretations of the world. ‘The Swan Princess’ and ‘Sadko in the Underwater Kingdom’ are my particular favourites.
How did your rather unique style form – when did you start designing and making pieces yourself?
I have always made art for myself. My Nana was my very first hero; an icon with a huge blonde bee-hive, rouge and leopard print chiffon scarves. Her sister Winnie was the antithesis to this, with a frizz of black gray hair and three teeth to her mouth. She would wear a huge scarlet Micheal Jackson ‘Thriller’ jacket with a thousand long lace skirts and the most ornate sequined sari. I was surrounded by these eccentric, beautiful characters as a child.
Where is it going – what techniques, materials or concepts are you interested in exploring in the future?
Intergalactic prismatic light fragmentation, primordial ooze, spacedust, raw animal skins, precious metals and minerals: raw materials which can be taken to the stratosphere.
What professional lessons did you learn at Hockley?
I learned how to charm the old gents in the basement workshop, who would sneak me up old archive pieces of leopard and ocelot hide. I used to leave with bin-bags full of little bits every day. I learned quite a few methods like tanning hides and various techniques for effect, but I also invented a few of my own there. I think they were quite amused by this insane looking 15-year-old who just turned up one day. I found their advert in the back of Vogue and decided that’s were I wanted to go. So I made a white lie about my age and traveled from my hometown of Newcastle to Conduit Street.
2012 will be better than 2011 for you. Discuss…
Well, 2012 will be the year of the dragon, so we should benefit from an unrestricted, auspicious and enterprising time ahead. A close collaborator of mine, audio visual artist 241-24-7 is the ultimate dragon of the 23rd century, so I see some interesting filmic visions from him ahead. If the gods smile at me, 2012 should be bullet proof.
Words: Jack Mills