We catch up with the menswear designer, to learn how he's evolved as an artist since leaving his eponymous label.
It's been nearly three years since Simon Spurr abruptly resigned from his eponymous menswear label, leaving the fashion world surprised, perplexed and in chatter. Initially discrete about the reasons for his departure, we eventually learn that investor conflicts were the motivation - a tale all too common in the creative, albeit commercial world of fashion. Unwaveringly committed to his vision as a creator, Simon made the tough decision to walk away from the brand he not only built, but bore his own name.
Unbeknownst to most of the public, Simon's personal life was amidst a similar transition. As his company unraveled, his young marriage had likewise come to an end. An unlikely and unfortunate set of circumstances, only a true optimist could realize the silver lining: the rare opportunity to start completely anew. Simon settled into a new home, in a new neighborhood, as he contemplated the next steps of both his personal life and career.
After a consulting stint at Tommy Hilfiger, Simon went quiet - disappearing from the fashion world for several months. The designer had taken time off to explore new artistic mediums, working on a series of projects that “blur the lines between furniture, sculpture and architecture.” “I was able to create works that were truly the purest expression of myself,” says the passionate creator, who considers his process more akin to an artist than a designer.
This may contribute equally to my success and my struggles in the fashion industry, but I've always considered myself more of an artist than a designer. I've always designed from the heart. Whether it's creating clothing, or curating a home, it has to be very personal. But with the six months, I was able to create works that were truly the purest expression of myself, unconstrained by any sort of market or trend.
The project that I started - and am still working on now - uses marble, ostrich skin and brass to create a sculptural form that'll also be functional. It sort of blurs the line between furniture, sculpture and architecture. It's taking me a little longer than I originally expected, but my goal is to show it in a gallery once it's done.
A beautifully curated home, so calming in its restraint and flooded with natural light, while no longer, I'm certain the designer has recreated the same tranquility in his new West Village apartment.
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO SINCE LEAVING YOUR BRAND?
I was already working with Tommy Hilfiger, consulting on men's runway. But then my contract with them was up, so I took six months off and started some furniture, sculpture, engineering projects, which are still in the works. But now I'm back in the fashion world, designing for Kent & Curwen. It's a British heritage label, but the head office is now here in New York.
When I was presented with the idea of going into a heritage brand, I knew that I would approach it differently. Very few men's heritage brands have gone the route of a Celine or Balenciaga, where they've completely modernized, or re-invented the brand. If I were to design period costumes, and draw solely upon the brand's cricket sweater heritage, it wouldn't be relevant - it's not going to sell. The tricky part for me to is to extract the DNA of the brand, but to make it current.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO EXPLORE OTHER ART FORMS DURING YOUR TIME OFF?
But eventually, Simon found himself back into the hands of fashion, assuming the role of Creative Director for the British heritage brand, Kent & Curwen. A year into the job, Simon's professional life has finally started to settle, just as his personal life reaches a new turning point. After three years of bachelorhood in Brooklyn, Simon is moving back to Manhattan, to build a new home with his girlfriend.
We captured Simon's Williamsburg apartment in its final days - a mere week before his move. The designer was grateful for the opportunity to memorialize the space that will forever maintain a personal significance - the place he called home during such a challenging, but cathartic chapter of his life.
I've always designed from the heart.
Whether it's creating clothing, or curating a home, it has to be very personal.
YOUR HOME IS VERY RESTRAINED, BUT HAS WARMTH. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE ITS MOOD?
Tranquil. Definitely tranquil. I mean, I live in New York, and I work in Fashion. You know, it's a chaotic, fast-paced environment. We have a saying, “Your home is your castle” and this is sort of my retreat. When I close the door it's very important to me that it's serene, tranquil and away from clutter. I don't like clutter. I can't think in clutter. I don't like to relax in clutter. But with this sort of minimal aesthetic, it can start to feel sterile very quickly. I try to offset that with a little bit of color and warmth.
THIS IS QUITE THE COLLECTION OF MID-CENTURY FURNITURE. HOW DID IT ALL COME TOGETHER?
The furniture is an accumulation of about eight years of collecting. I've had some of it since living in my old apartment in the city, but a lot of it is new additions. I've come to develop certain styles and specific designers that I like. I have a few pieces by Paul McCobb, Milo Baughman and quite a few works by Curtis Jere. Most of these pieces are actually from eBay. Once you know what you like, it's a lot easier to go out looking for it. At forty years old, I kind of feel like I've found the rhythm of my style. These aren't pieces that I'm just going to throw away when I move apartments.
When I close the door, it's very important to me that my home is serene, tranquil and away from clutter. I don't like clutter. I can't think in clutter. I can't relax in clutter.