It’s summer year-round in Los Angeles, which has driven model Bradley Soileau completely mad. The first volume of his new, multi-dimensional project BlackFist was inspired by this very sentiment, titled, “Endless Bummer” and centered on a standout seven-piece collection. Rounding out the immersive BlackFist experience, Soileau has assembled one-of-a-kind, handmade garments, a series of DIY zines, limited edition cassette mixtapes–of XCRUCIALX HARDCOREEEE!!!!–and a short film, all of which will later be culminated in a gallery installation.
“Removed from the context of seasons, in a place where summer is essentially endless and the lows of winter do not exist, summer becomes disgusting,” Soileau said. “The sticky air, the stench of hot garbage, endless nights of sweaty sheets, flies in your kitchen, the infinite drone of air conditioning units—it’s suffocating. Summer is stagnant, depressing, suspended in a state of aimlessness. You drown in endless summer.”
The “Endless Bummer” lookbook, shot by Cameron McCool, was handmade and Xeroxed by Soileau, featuring model Justin Gossman wearing grungy, monochromatic looks from the premiere BlackFist collection. Check out the lookbook above and read our interview with Soileau, where we talk about LA dick riders, Vivienne Westwood and DIY punk spirit.
This project stems from your hatred toward LA. Why’d you end up on the West Coast?
Fuck man, how I got to Los Angeles sucked—I got married, so I moved here to be with my ex-wife and it was a shit show. I moved from NYC, so I was addicted to the hustle of the city—the constant movement and stress of everything going on. Then you get to Los Angeles, and it’s just so blah. “La La Land,” they call it, because nobody does anything. It’s a city full of people chasing a dream of doing nothing but chilling. I hate all the people chasing fame and money, but not hustling for it—just being lame dick riders and sluts to get a little cash or fame. And then there’s the weather—summer every fucking day. It makes me want to die sometimes.
How did you channel this resentment into BlackFist?
I started the working on concepts, finding inspiration through the punk and hardcore scene that I grew up in and am still so heavily influenced by. I was staying with my good friend and tattoo artist, Sean from Texas, who lives in this radical studio apartment on Sunset Blvd.—right in the heart of a once great Hollywood. His apartment is so LA: Small studio, carpet floor and a small pool in the middle of the complex. Visually, it’s such a Hollywood, Rock ‘N’ Roll kids apartment. I fell in love with that place, but it was a sick and twisted love because I was sad as fuck that I was in LA still. That’s when it all hit me—I work best depressed. The drowning, stagnate feeling I had from being here was in fact a great tool for me to build upon and create my art.
What inspired the clothing you’ve created for this project?
I’m not scared to say some influence was young Vivienne Westwood and ’90s Helmut Lang, but past that, I wasn’t really influenced by anything other than myself. I stay in my head a lot and I hate people who copy or make clothes that are ‘inspired by’ someone else’s clothes. Designers are inspired by music, feelings, landscapes and architecture, so I want to stay true to that by designing with feelings, music and art. The collection is very authentic to me—kind of sad, dark and depressed, but with a light, demented humor behind it. That’s me, a sad, funny little guy just trying to figure out life and what I want from it.
You’ve also created one-of-a-kind, handmade garments.
If fashion is about expressing yourself through clothes, how can you do that if you buy something off the racks that’s mass-produced? Why not buy something that only you can have? That’s so special to me, so I’ve been reworking clothes that have been given to me. Right now, I’m doing a lot of patchwork and cool stitching work—a lot of stuff with dental floss done by hand. I’ve been working with different adhesives and techniques to put art on fabric to make pieces that keep that DIY punk spirit alive. Usually the creative process for this is long and drawn out—I’ll start a few pieces at one time and just hang out with them, adding a patch here and there. The pieces are my friends.
What was the creative process like for your lookbook?
Los Angeles has a certain photography style—it’s sunny, blown out, beachy, happy and commercial. The majority of photographers here adhere to that, which is very boring to me. It’s not high fashion. Being a model, I’ve shot with a ton of people, which is how I met Cameron McCool. I love his images—they’re film, raw, gritty and dark. The model’s name is Justin Gossman. He had just signed to Next Model Management and no one had used him at the time, so I was very excited. Visually, I’m fond of things that are ugly, out of focus and even awkward—that’s what I was trying to get out of my lookbook imagery.
Tell us about mixtape volume one.
Volume one’s mixtape is pretty dark—all hardcore, kind of sad and melodic yet chaotic and angry. These are the feelings I had during the conception of BlackFist. It’s all music I’ve listened to since I was young—the songs I would listen to while I was sketching out ideas or thinking about hating Los Angeles. It’s a DJ mix, I made it with my turntables. It’s not just a playlist.
Why take on so many creative pursuits under one umbrella project?
Why not? Why can’t I, as an artist, do anything under one name? I don’t know where my mind will be next month, much less next season. Sure I made clothes this volume, but the state of fashion somewhat sickens me, so next season when people are expecting my summer volume, I might not want to make clothes—I might want to start a musical project and go on a small tour. Maybe I’ll decide to disappear for a year to foreign countries to find cool fabrics and music or I might just find a cool fucking gallery and lock myself in a cage for a month on display so the world can watch my mind unravel.