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The Ever-Expanding Design Influence of Aitor Throup

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Aitor Throup

Aitor Throup’s eerie, anatomical drawings have always been a critical component of his body of work. If you’d ever seen only them, you’d be inclined to label him an artist, though it’s as a menswear designer that Throup has insinuated himself into pop culture. And yet, every time he surfaces on Style.com, it’s with a new project that is as much art as fashion. And so it is with this installment of our semi-regular ThroupWatch.

The blurred lines are amplified by the fact that Throup has never really functioned as a fashion designer. In the eight years since he graduated from the Royal College of Art, he has managed to duck the industry’s swinging seasonal timetable. He’s designed collections—though they are better described as “projects”—without ever actually bringing anything to market, until last year’s “New Object Research,” which was a carefully curated overview of his output to date. The clothes quickly sold out in the handful of stores around the world that carried them.

But if there has never been much with his own label attached, that doesn’t mean Throup hasn’t been shaping a singular and stealthily influential presence. He’s always busy with consultancies, for instance. The latest—for Amsterdam-based denim label G-Star Raw—was announced yesterday. He’s also created the visual identities for Damon Albarn’s new album, Everyday Robots, and he’s designing everything for the band Kasabian, from stage design to album sleeves to videos. The latest, “Eez-Eh,” features a cameo by Noomi Rapace (see it here, above), who gets to unleash her rock ‘n’ roll animal alongside the band. The immediacy of the whole thing suggests Throup is getting a much bigger kick out of this sort of stuff than fashion. The sneaky thought even occurs that he keeps himself so busy with outside projects so he never actually has to face up to his own.

Not at all, he insisted last night at a Q&A in London’s Design Museum. Throup claimed all his projects—whatever, wherever they are—feed into each other. They’re all part of the same curatorial exercise, refining his ideas with the ultimate goal of “creating an intrinsic style that only has itself as a point of reference.” And if that sounds grandiose, consider that it’s a similar obsessive impulse that has shaped the careers of true innovators like Azzedine Alaïa, Rei Kawakubo, and Vivienne Westwood. No surprise, then, that innovation was the key word in G-Star’s announcement. Throup’s own definition of what he does is “deeply charged art in the form of product innovation,” which not only provides a bridge between artist and designer, but also promises plenty more fodder for ThroupWatch.

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