One Discipline: Lou de Bètoly in Conversation with Sophy Hollington
Culture — 27.02.20
French fashion designer Lou de Bètoly recently showcased her new collection at Berlin Fashion Week. Her intertwined garments embody wistful gems of mischievous fairy tales. Intricately fusing traditional techniques with playful textures and fabrics. In this edition of One Discipline, she is in conversation with Sophy Hollington; a British illustrator specialising in lino cutting. Her work creates a magical air through the dark detailed fantasies. She draws essence from meteoric folklore and alchemical symbolism in her unique stylistic approach. Drawn from two established crafts, both creatives will discuss topics of tradition, romanticism, nostalgia and artistry within their work and practice.
Sophy: Do you see yourself and your identity as an extension of your creative output? If so, how does this manifest?
Lou: My work is very personal at the moment, linking to myself in many ways. Within this I’m playing with my identity, creating new characters. Each creation and design symbolises specific fragments and highlights of my life somehow.
Lou: I discovered your work around Tarot cards and symbols. What is the story behind the project
Sophy: I’d been toying with the idea of creating a deck for some time before I was approached by Rough Trade Books to collaborate with the writer David Keenan on one. David had written a text called ‘To Run Wild In It: A Handbook Of Autonomic Tarot’ in which each chapter is named after a tarot card. I used each chapter to inform the design of each card and the deck was born. It really did feel channelled …it just fell out of me in a way no other project has before or since.
Sophy: What is it about crochet that made you pursue it so intensely as a medium?
Lou: I started crocheting at the age of five, it is now second nature! I love the freedom to sculpt and extend forms whilst you work, allowing experimentation without a final outcome in mind. I develop this further through mixing and adding different techniques of garment creation.
Lou: What favourite memories surrounding illustration do you have from your childhood? Do they have an impact on your work now?
Sophy: Dr Seuss was my absolute favourite as a child. I remember taking so much pleasure walking around the worlds he created in my head. There’s something about that creation of inner space and sharing it with people that I suppose has resonated.
Sophy: Does narrative play a part in your work? Do some pieces tell specific stories?
Lou: Definitely! Especially through the material I use within my garments. I’m constantly gathering pieces, fabrics and trinkets from my travels. My studio is a cabinet de curiosité filled with treasures from flea markets around the world. Each piece tells a story of memories or places personal to me or it’s the previous owner.
Lou: Do you prefer to work on commissioned projects or rather with complete freedom? Can restrictions enhance creativity?
Sophy: I agree. I think the parameters that you’re given as a commercial artist can push you in all sorts of ways that would be unimaginable if you were left to your own devices.
Sophy: It’s really refreshing to see a lot of mature women in your campaigns. Is there anything else you’ve been consciously doing to tackle historic prejudices in the fashion industry?
Lou: I really love the spectrum of age. I am particularly drawn to unique and bold women with a sense of aura and character. Mature women who are really extravagant, and dare to stand out against expected norms. I would like to tackle historic prejudices in the fashion industry. I am conscious of working with old materials instead of buying new rolls of fabrics. Focusing rather on the craftsmanship of my pieces and working by hand. I take my time with my process of creation. Something that seems quite contradictory within our fast fashion industry age.
Lou: A symbol is a representation of a thought, an analogy. In our digitally oriented society, we use emoticons. Symbols are part of history as much as the present. How is this integrated into your work?
Sophy: I see symbols and archetypes as tools of communication. Layering and combining these as well as finding unique ways of representing and depicting them is the playful part. Through exploring alchemical symbolism whilst working on the tarot deck I discovered that a lot of the visual language and cues we use today come from that tradition.
Lou: What do you think will be the future for craftsmanship?
Sophy: For me, it’s got to be the real thing rather than a digital imitation. I suppose that’s the crux of it: technology and innovation are exciting prospects in their own right, but when they’re used to cut corners and to emulate a hand-led technique, in my eyes you lose the art.
Sophy: Do you still make your pieces yourself/by hand? If so, how do the process of making and the time spent doing it direct your creativity?
Lou: Yes, the prototypes I do myself. It’s the easiest for me to create myself, so I can make the result evaluate while I’m creating. For me the more details, and the more crazy, the more exciting. The pieces can be reproduced after, so for production, I work with other people.