2012 July 5

From The Daily Berlin: Back to Black

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Jen Gilpin Jen Gilpin
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(BERLIN) Don’t Shoot The Messenger is one of the most talked-about brands in the biz, and creative director Jen Gilpin’s essential inspiration elements involve 16th-century poetry, grizzly forest creatures, and the darker side of fashion. Bang! 
BY EDDIE ROCHE

What’s with the name?
I get this question all the time!

Do you regret not naming it after yourself?
Yeah, I could have called it so many other things, and I wouldn’t have to answer all these questions. But I’m happy with it—it’s a very famous quote from Shakespeare, and it already sort of exists in everyone’s psyche.

What was it about DSTM that appealed to you?
From the start, I’ve thought about the design, and the subconscious because that’s where a lot of it comes from. The label isn’t very trend-driven.

So you don’t hunt.
I do shoot guns, but no, I’ve never hunted.

Where have you shot guns?
I’m from Alberta, Canada, which is the Texas of the north. My grandpa had a pet bear named Scottie.

Let’s hear about Scottie! 
As the story goes, a circus came through town, and my grandpa was drinking at a bar. Someone asked if he wanted to buy a cub bear for a nickel, and my grandpa did. When my grandma was pregnant with my dad, my grandpa shot Scottie because he worried about jealousy issues. We have Scottie’s head taxidermied on the wall of my brother’s house. We have my grandpa’s rifles as well.

R.I.P, Scottie. How did your brand evolve?
I started this with Kyle Callanan three years ago, but this year he went back into film and costume work. So far it’s been very fun. I once had my own label in Canada, so I’m doing it alone all over again.

How does a Canadian end up in Berlin?
There are many Canadians in Berlin! As a kid I was always so fascinated by Europe: the culture, the architecture, and the idea that you can travel from one country to the next in one day. I came here 10 years ago for the first time and lived here for a short period. I really liked it, so I came back.

Who are your fashion friends?
Butterfly Soulfire is down the street, so I see those guys almost daily. I’m a big fan of Augustin Teboul; their stuff is beautiful, but I don’t see them often. 

How did you know you wanted to be a designer?
I’ve always been crafty. I always made things as a kid; then I discovered the sewing machine. My parents are both scientists, and in school, I was very good in math and science. Then my mom asked if I’d ever thought of design school. I said, ‘Really? I can do this?’

Are you still into science?
Occasionally I watch documentaries and learn a little about quantum physics or something.

What was your first brand called?
Re-Gen. It was made with recycled materials.

Is your current label green?
We’re the blackest green label around.

Do you own any pink?
Just a few pieces! We did a slightly pink color a few years ago.

Do you ever do prints?
I’m anti-print. It’s not in my creative structure.

Do you wear prints personally?
I don’t.

Do you design for yourself?
I always want to make realistic clothing. I think about our customers, but of course I make clothing I want to wear, too! 

Your shop and your design studio share a space. Do you tell customers that you’re the designer?
If they ask, for sure! But I’m not waving my hand in front of their faces. The brand has grown with our customers; we’re doing more wedding dresses and custom design work.

Are you designing your own dress for your wedding next year?
Yes. I’m used to doing entire collections, so deciding on one dress will be very difficult. I’m going to make my fiance’s outfit as well.

Will your dress be white or black?
White! I’m getting married in Provence, France, and I always switch to white when I’m there. It’s not a black clothing environment, which Berlin definitely is. Clothing is your armor, protection, and camouflage.

You seem quite light: Do you have a dark side? 
Introverted people lean on black because it absorbs energy; it’s about not reflecting yourself out into the environment. When you wear really bright colors, it pushes it in people’s faces!

Do you have a black cat?
[laughs] No. You’d be surprised: my apartment doesn’t have much black in it! 

 

Don’t Shoot The Messenger is one of the most talked-about brands in the biz, and creative director Jen Gilpin’s essential inspiration elements involve 16th-century poetry, grizzly forest creatures, and the darker side of fashion. Bang! 
BY EDDIE ROCHE



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