Sterling Ruby’s scope is broadened and his rhythm altered. He’s expanded from contemporary artist to artist of the hyper-contemporary, a.k.a fashion designer. As he presented his first collection as part of Paris Couture Week today, we Zoomed to his studio in California to talk through this second presented collection of his S.R. Studio. LA. CA. label and reflect on its impact upon his wider work in other art forms.
Vogue Runway: The first show for S.R. was June 2019 at Pitti Uomo** in Florence. Why did you decide to emerge with this second collection at Paris Couture Week in January 2021?**
Sterling Ruby: It felt like the right time, and there were a number of things behind that. Between Pitti and now, we thought about releasing another kind of project or collection three separate times—and mostly due to COVID, we stopped. We would really, really work on it, very hard, and then realize it was absolutely impossible for us. We would stop and start over again. When the invitation [from The Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode] came in we were in a pretty good place at the studio and in L.A. Everybody was excited, and I was excited. It’s an honor. Also, I think, for the team, we needed to do it. It was a morale boost to see something through when we had started so many different times, and then just stopped.
What was the process of this show?
We had planned a much bigger, outdoor, live show—probably not with any audience but something that was relative to the studio—outside. It wasn’t even four weeks ago that the cases were going up, and we just scrapped that idea. It just didn’t make sense, and it didn’t feel safe, so we had to really shift gears. One of those shifts was to limit the amount of models. In the end, we wound up using one of our fit models and one other model, so that we can change during production.
Where and what was the location of the background footage?
I shot the footage a number of years ago. It’s this paintball course on the outskirts of L.A. I do this pretty often: If I see something that I find interesting, I’ll go out and film it. Right now I’m sitting on maybe seven or eight different projects that we’ve started over the course of the last couple of years. Sometimes it’s nice to look at [those projects] from time to time and figure out whether or not they mean anything at that moment. When we switched gears [for the show] I assessed all of that footage, and this made a lot of sense because there’s this kind of inevitability of working through what’s been going on in the U.S. over the past year. Thinking about this militarized scenario that all rights are patriotic rights … for me that os played out in places like that, this kind of post-apocalyptic zone.