It’s fitting that the name of the clothing label Natasha Khan approached to collaborate with is an acronym for You Must Create. Founders of English clothing label YMC – Jimmy Collins and Fraser Moss – poached the words from Industrial Designer Raymond Loewy’s slogan, “you must create your own design style”. It’s a mantra that seems to be continually drumming through Khan’s head. Best known for her shamanic singing voice under her stage name Bat for Lashes, Khan’s creative talents don’t rest with making music. “Every time an album finishes, I tend to start making things for other projects, because I know that once I’ve finished a record, the last thing I want to do is write music again. So I try to do other things.”
Following the exhaustive process that went into putting her last album, The Haunted Man together, Khan literally went back to the drawing board. Using illustrations she sketched during her time in Australia while touring for 2012’s Laneway Festival, and inspired by visiting Victoria’s Hanging Rock, Khan painstakingly made cut-outs by hand which feature as the print for the collection. “We actually made the print by taking loads and loads of photos of my cut-outs and then reducing and enlarging them to make them fit together seamlessly.” The intention was to move away from the clear-cut imagery of digital printing to a more organic style reminiscent of liberty prints and vintage wallpaper.
The result is a sunset-hued collection of leisurewear featuring palm trees in the breeze and a couple holding hands – a departure from both YMC’s functional work-wear aesthetic and the stylised garments Kahn wears for Bat for Lashes. Both parties came up with the shapes and fabric. Khan says her collaborators were keen for her perspective. “I’ve got a collection of old, ‘70s sweatshirts that I collect when I go to the US, so they encouraged me to take in my own collection. They were pretty supportive of me telling them what fabric I really liked.”
Despite the nostalgic references, the collection has a decidedly contemporary feel due to the simplicity of the garments and its strong graphic patterns. “Because it’s my first one, we decided that the pattern would be the most dynamic aspect of the collection. So we used very simple shapes with beautiful fabrics,” Khan says.
Sitting alongside the release of the collection is a short film – Under the Indigo Moon – that has Khan collaborating with Neil Krug, a photographer and filmmaker responsible for Lana Del Rey’s campaigns. Featuring Khan in clothes from the collection, the film has a fun, sun-drenched quality as Khan and cohort drive down Sunset Boulevard to a tune that she and Beck collaborated on. The clothes come to life in the film, and the images on the print depict the film’s storyline and music. As Khan herself admits, “What I initially studied is music with visual arts, so I can’t really separate them. I’ll draw a song rather than write it. I feel like everything I create is all coming from the same source.”