Collaborative, altruistic and subversive: Red Vatican provides a non-exploitative platform for emerging design talent we caught up with the founder to find out more
A non-exploitative platform for emerging design talent and artists alike has been born. Collaborative, altruistic and subversive: we’re talking about upcoming concept store Red Vatican due to be officially inaugurated on the 14th of August in East London’s Hackney. Also home to Red Vatican’s creator Chris, an ex film-maker and according to him, most interesting person in London: “Someone has to be it,” he laughs.
“East London chose Red Vatican, they were made for each other,” says Chris. “We plan to donate to charity, run a school program with the designers we work with and to create artwork that raises funds for different causes”. This is art with a cause. But what’s even more interesting than the final concept itself is the progression that shaped Red Vatican to what it is today. Developing this project after a difficult period in his life, Chris had been struggling with depression.
“I had realized that there was a huge void inside of me and that my life was really all about abdicating responsibility,” says Chris. “Fashion was something I never really had an interest in or considering pursuing”. The transition from this initial thought to what is now Red Vatican is a blur to say the very least. “Loads of things happened,” Chris explains. “There was the full moon, I missed a bus, a girl caught my eye and then I was doing Red Vatican.
It took three years of hard work for Chris to gain investors and to find a space for the concept store and it was a shoe string operation. Aside from Chris’ family and friends, there were a few key players. Ben Westwood, for example, who did all the photographs for the website and acted as a panellist; “I still owe him £40,” laughs Chris. When we ask Chris the inspiration behind Red Vatican, his answer is simple. “Red Vatican is everything I’ve ever done,” he states. “For me answering this question would be like being forced to eat one Christmas dinner after another, and I don’t like Christmas.”
A lot of the final concept refers to the desire to bring out a different side to one’s character, the unknown and slightly diverted side that everyone has, through a specific mean such as fashion, buy turning it into something so positive that it almost becomes a humanitarian project.With its esoteric vibe and air of mystery, the name Red Vatican seems perfect for the project. But disclosing the actual meaning of the name is not something that Chris feels the need to do: “An open concept like Red Vatican is more concerned with self interpretation, self justification and personal realization and any answer I could give now would be transient,” he says.
Finding their own answers and explanations is something the Red Vatican audience will have to do, probably one of the most thrilling aspects of the project, which deems defining Red Vatican near impossible. Bringing together creativity in all of its guises, the diversity of the project is set to appeal to so many different people.
Fashion, philanthropy, community, empowerment, discovery and innovation. Chris is set to bring us this and so much more.
Words: Carlotta Buosi