You might not know the name Jay Barry Matthews, but you’ve definitely seen his extravagant, elegant work. The Aussie’s designed costumes and props for everyone from JLS, Matthew Bourne to even a little film called The Dark Knight Rises (you might have heard of it).
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on some of my own costume designs in leather and rope for an editorial which I’ll be art directing, shooting, making all the costumes and styling, fun times! They are for a brilliant dancer Andrea Carrucciu. I’m also making a special macramé amour piece for the new Matthew Bourne ballet, Sleeping Beauty. Some of my other costume ideas are bursting out my ears so I have to make them before they consume me totally!
Who is your muse?
A small boy mannequin who lives with me, he embodies the freedom of a child’s mind coupled with the constrictive force of the world pushing in on him, rendering him completely motionless. His proud, tearful, endless gaze terrifies and amazes me.
How do you pick your colours?
Colours are hard, I have a love-hate relationship with choosing them. Choosing colour is about trusting yourself and that’s always a challenge. Today everything is all beige then tomorrow it’s viridian. I tend to colour block everything.
You designed the masks (above) in The Dark Knight Rises – what was it like working on the film?
It was like all the jobs I do, very fast! I was contacted by one of the team and asked to make ten masks for a ballroom scene in a couple of days. You never get much time. They gave me some of the dresses the actors would wear and I went from there. Some of the designs had very specific references from the head designer but the others I got to do myself.
Were you a Batman fan growing up?
YES! Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman is still the pinnacle of costume design and hotness for me.
Where do you go shopping?
I really loathe shopping so online is good. I love finding things on the street, washing them then wearing them. If its for my work I’m all about wholesalers and junk yards. Retailers need to get a grip and look at their margins.
Who’s your ideal client?
Someone who wears amazing things because they like how it makes them think about the world not because they just want attention. Someone who wants to be part of this world now, to make changes so it’s a better place for everyone. You can do this with clothing: what you wear is a political act in itself.
Who do you create costumes/masks for?
Myself, mainly – not to wear but these ideas get stuck in my head and wont leave me alone until they exist in the world. So I make things and just put them on the shelf until they have a use. Making anything is about communication, so it’s my way of being part of our cultural dialogue.
What place do you go for inspiration in London?
My bed or Hampstead Heath to walk and swim in the pond, if I have space around my mind I get the best ideas. These places feel natural and free – if only I could be naked in Hampstead like in my bed.
How long have you been in London?
Long enough to change my life radically!
Where were you before?
Do you want to stay here?
I want the whole world to be available, damn the whole visa, passport bullshit! Where is the love, people?
Words: Hatnim Lee