Rhiannon D’Averc sat down with Adam Frost, an inspiring designer from Brighton whose work definitely does not conform to the norm. With a bubbly, infectious laugh that fills the room and the ability to talk at a million miles per hour, this is one personality you’ll wish you had the chance to meet yourself.
Let’s start from the beginning – when did you first start making clothes?
I used to design clothes at school. I used to draw them in my maths books. I was quite bullied, so I’d do drawings, and I always used to do logos. It used to be Adam Frost logos. I think I started making them at about 14. But I got a machine and then I just did this ugly, floral, patchwork-y thing. It was really fucking hideous, and now it’s a bit of a trend! I like florals, but that was hideous. I found it the other day. I think I chucked it away, even though that’s the first piece of fabric I really sewed together. I probably shouldn’t have chucked it away, but I think, fuck it.
Then what has your journey been like from here to there?
I used to literally look at fashion, but I think everyone needs to do that. I could easily be a stylist. You can probably do other things apart from writing, do you know what I mean? It went from looking at fashion, you have to keep looking, and then you get your voice. I went through lots of vintage furry capes, like vintage Prada and stuff. Then I went through Vivienne Westwood, I was obsessed with her. Then I discovered McQueen, then I discovered Maison Margiela. I think you see all that and you add that up, and then you cut bits out and throw up on it, and then you get your own voice. I think nothing’s original, even Vivienne Westwood – she references vintage stuff all the time.
Who would you say is your biggest influence?
I think life, not fashion. As I’ve got older, I don’t even really look at the shows unless it’s my friend or something. I think the best inspiration is yourself, because everyone’s original in a way. You can’t remake the same person.
How would you describe the style of your clothes?
I would say they’re for anyone. There’s not a gender or a person. I’d say it’s very LGBTQ+, but all by accident because that’s what I am. The whole casting in my show, everyone was LGBTQ+, and anyone. It’s for anyone and everyone. I think if you’re feeling shit, it’s nice to have glittery things, because that basically drags you out of it, if that makes sense. What was the question, describe my clothes? Arty farty and for everyone! Anyone could buy it. Sequins, velvet, and foil, and plastic, they’re the main key things. Eventually, if this all goes properly and it goes into a label – obviously, it’s a label already, but if it becomes a more established label – then there would be the velvet coat every season. There would be the shoulder padded coat every season. But then there would also be the suit… they’re very glittery, very velvet, quite regal. If you want to wear my stuff, you’d walk into the shop and everyone would be like “What the fuck are you wearing?”, you know what I mean? You can go to Sainsburys in a plastic dress, probably. Why not?
How hungover are you right now on a scale of one to ten?
I’m not that bad, about a three or a four. I don’t feel that bad. I’m more knackered, because I was out til 5 or 6 in the morning.
You mentioned you’ve got a t-shirt line coming out?
I’ve got a t-shirt line coming out, it’s kind of coming out in pieces. Every other week there’ll be a new product. It’s not rushed, it will be just bits and bobs. There will be badges with my face on. Not to be pretentious, but just because it’s an art photo, it looks really fun. If you’ve seen my Instagram photo, it’s that one. So I’m getting that made, and then I’m getting another badge that says ‘Arty Farty’ on it, over the top of a different artwork. Then there will also be an ‘Arty Farty’ t-shirt, and there might be an Anal Winehouse t-shirt with a painting of my drag person on it – it will just say ‘Anal’ with a picture. I don’t know if everyone will buy that one! But then I’m also doing the sequin stuff. A really beautiful jersey with the sequins on. The t-shirts are about £35, and the sequin ones are more like £100 because they take longer to produce, they’re more custom. I’m doing that, and then on to some sort of visual art, I think. I do think my next collection – I don’t think it will be – is that John Rocha? I think that’s John Rocha.
We’re in Soho and a large group of people is flooding the streets after a recent protest. An expensive-looking gentleman walks past who does, indeed, look like John Rocha. The sighting is unconfirmed but we are both convinced.
John Rocha just walked past, ladies and gentleman! That’s so weird. I was just saying, I want to do some music as well. Because the show I just did, I did the music myself. I made them myself on GarageBand. If Bjork can use GarageBand when she DJs, I can fucking use GarageBand. I want to do some music. I’m making some clothes with musicians and artists.
Anyone that you can name?
I’m doing some stuff for Arca – you could say that, I suppose! I approached Arca, it wasn’t him approached me. I approached him to make some clothing that he might want to wear on stage. I would say it is a collaboration, as weird as that sounds. Basically I messaged Arca and said, ‘I really want to make you some clothes’, and he was like ‘oh, okay!’. I don’t know whether you say he or them, by the way – I don’t know if they’re non-binary. Basically I just said ‘I love your work, I just really want to make some clothes for you’, and then within a few hours he messaged me back. He was like ‘Yeah, let’s do it, that sounds fun!’. Basically I’m doing some costume places for him that have holes in so that when he’s on stage he can put flowers in them, and rub the mic up against the flowers. I’m also going to do a big black and white shirt with holes all over that as well. I’ve even got his measurements.
Tell me more about your drag persona.
Anal Winehouse! Yeah, so basically she’s me but a woman. I don’t consider myself a woman or trans or anything. Anal Winehouse is just my drag persona and I DJ in Hastings. I play Bjork remixes and Roisin Murphy and stuff. Graces Jones. I know it’s all performance, but I don’t really like drag performance all that much. I prefer to DJ in drag, because you can dance and drink and just play music and it’s fun. I always project visuals. It’s in the Pumpworks in Hastings – you should come sometime! I’m getting distracted by people on the street…
We discuss a few passers-by, including one notable person who may be wearing either a wig or some feathers stuck to his head; we can’t decide.
I think the thing is about London, I don’t know if you agree with me, you can come here and be lost in all the drama but also have a lovely time while you’re doing it. Then go back to Tonbridge [ed’s note: my place of residence!], and you can [relax] – you know what I mean, it’s nice!
Adam spots another passer-by of interest.
He’s well cute… oh my god.
I tend to agree on that. Let’s not look out that window anymore – there’s too much going on.
The guy I was with earlier was very cute, I was actually quite shocked I was with him. He had an amazing body, and I was just like, oh my god. Do you ever get with someone and you’re like, fuck, how did I get with this person? Then you realise you’re not as ugly as you think you are.
And then you get confident and think you can have anyone!
And the next time it happens you’re like oh, shit. He was so into me, it was nice. Even when we woke up he was still into me, it was nice. But you know when the kisses just die out, slowly? We kissed a bit, and then there was less kissing, and then when I left we didn’t even kiss, it was just a hug. Then you think, oh, I don’t think I’m going to see him again.
Well, fingers crossed – you never know.
No, I don’t think I’m going to see him again. I told him to add me on Facebook, and he typed my name in but he didn’t add me on Facebook while I was sitting there. I think you shouldn’t chase after people if they’re not…
Right, because then if you chase them, of course they’re going to turn into a fuckboy. They love the attention.
Then they’ll be playing hard to get… It’s bullshit. And then you’re like, well, what did I do that for? It’s a bit shit, isn’t it?
Wow, a bit depressing.
Yeah… And another thing about fashion is, everyone who’s doing really well, they all have no money. Everyone thinks all these celebrities have money. Pam Hogg, she’s doing so well, but every time she does an interview she always says, look, I’ve got no backing, I’ve got no money. But then at the same time I’m like, at least you’re showing in a venue and you probably don’t even have to pay. Sometimes, you don’t even have to have money. I was at The Box last night – I haven’t got any savings, I went to The Box and I got free drinks all night, I didn’t pay for anything. My friends go there. We all get dressed up, and it was fun. Normally I don’t like going to places like that. Everyone that’s there has paid thousands of pounds for booths, or £50 to get in, and then there’s all us cool kids just rocking up and getting in without even going through searches. But it’s because my friend works there. But don’t you think it’s really cringey and bullshitty how it functions? There’s a lot of arseholes. It’s all about being young and being image and shit, you know? People say it’s not, but it is. Models are always young… I want some old grannies in my shows soon.
We’re trying to push the box with having older and younger mixed models, not just all the same.
You get some beautiful old ladies, that have stunning grey hair and it’s all natural.
It’s people that have just looked after themselves really well.
Yeah, exactly, and not done what I’m doing! Downing coffees and vodka shots. Oh, look, I’ve been to Liberty darling!
Adam is referring to someone walking by with a Liberty shopping bag.
See, I mock him, but I actually like it [laughs]. I really want to have my stuff on Dover Street Market someday. That’s one of my aims, I think. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.
Is there a person – a celebrity or another figure – that you’d really love to dress?
Arca is one of them, actually. But also, I’d say the Adam Frost woman is like Bjork and Roisin Murphy and me at a party with all my friends. And she’s getting really drunk and looking fabulous. That’s what Adam Frost is. But it’s also about being yourself. Roisin Murphy and Bjork are very themselves. I’ve actually met Roisin – she follows me on Instagram and I message her. I’m a bit of a fan and she knows that. I literally saw her two weeks ago. I’m in the new video, she’s done this new track. I’m in the ‘All My Dreams’ music video. We did it over two days, so in the first video of all these EPs coming out, I’m in the beginning of the video with purple hair, and I’m falling backwards.
She’s really nice, and she’s really good with her fans. We all turned up to set and we were a bit nervous. She was like ‘Alright mate?’ in her Irish accent – ‘Hello darling!’ – and it was like fuck, you’re so lovely. She’s wicked. It’s really weird that I’ve met her because she’s one of my main like… if it wasn’t for music, some people wouldn’t do what they do, you know what I mean? Roisin Murphy, I listened to her through all of my teenage years. So it’s weird that I’ve met her. She knows my clothes, she’s seen my clothes. I actually gave her a shirt and she just forgot it because I think she was drunk or something! But we’ve spoken about it since then and she said, ‘I’m such a dickhead!’. It was funny.
But yeah, I want to dress Roisin Murphy and Bjork. I don’t really know who else I would like to dress. It’s weird that Hungry has already worn my clothes, because I really love Hungry as well. To be, Bjork and Roisin Murphy aren’t really celebrities – I know they’re obviously known, but they’re not… Roisin can pop to Sainsburys and not get hassled, she’s even said that in interviews. Whereas I feel like Bjork – I’ve heard that she’s round her in East London more than you think. She’s lived in London for years, and then that bomb scare happened and she went and moved to Spain or something – I’m not really sure, but I saw it in a documentary about her. I know people that have done karaoke with Bjork. She’s proper nuts and fun, she’s a proper laugh. I shouldn’t say nuts – some people get offended by that.
But that’s the other thing about fashion. It’s nice to dress people, but if Britney Spears wore my clothes, I wouldn’t really be like, ‘Wow!’. I know that sounds really stupid and pretentious but I actually don’t give a fucking shit about Britney Spears. I don’t. Obviously she was an icon, but I think she’s a bit of a dickhead. I don’t think about them as celebrities. Some of them will literally wear anyone because it’s free clothes.
This is going to sound bad, but if I saw Little Mix wearing my clothes I’d be a bit ‘ehh’… I don’t like popular culture, I think that’s what it is. I like the side bits. It’s not real. That band, they’re probably not even happy being in that band but they’ve all signed a contract and they can’t get out of it. If you’re with Sony Music I feel like there’s two different contracts, they’re either fucked or they’re not. I feel like Adele is on one where she can do whatever the fuck she wants. Little Mix, I feel like they’re on a different contract where they’re a bit fucked. There’s these K-pop bands fainting and shit, and they’re with Sony Music. Justin Bieber, he threw up on stage. Never sign to Sony Music! I think it’s Sony Music, I might be wrong. But you hear about all these stories, of people throwing up and shit. They’re overworked. There’s K-pop bands where some of them literally have heart attacks when they’re 25. It’s fucking weird.
But back to your question, I think Bjork and Roisin Murphy. I also like the idea of people like Tracey Emin. I know her assistant vaguely. I don’t know if she’s seen my clothes, but she’s really close with her, so maybe she’s seen something. I’ve invited her to all my shows! Her assistant’s aware of all my stuff, and I feel like they’re really good friends. I’d love to dress her, because she always wears Vivienne Westwood. They’re arty farty people! Sarah Lucas – and I’d love to dress Grayson Perry. Grayson Perry, Bjork, Roisin Murphy!
Is that the Holy Trinity?
Yeah, the Holy Trinity!
Do you dress in a way that represents your brand?
I’ve realised some people that do fashion, they try and look their brand all the time. People like Bjork, she doesn’t dye her hair funny colours, it’s just natural. I used to dye my hair lilac because that’s my lining colour of my garments. It doesn’t matter what colour the garment is, my thing is that my lining is lilac. Eventually it will all be screenprinted inside as well so you can flip any garment out. You can do more with it. I see a lot of people try to dress over-hard. You’re not trying to hard, you look lovely and minimal. You know what looks good on you, and you’re all tonal – I love tonal!
Thanks! [blushing copiously]
But it’s taken me until I’m 25 to realise what looks good on me, and I think that’s the same with everyone. At 25, everyone looks good. Not everyone. I don’t mean that badly, but some people just never look good.
Some people never get it.
It’s like, you can’t shop in Primark for your whole life. Go to a charity shop and get an old vintage thing.
Find out more about Adam and shop his brand at instagram.com/ADAMFROSTREALNESS
Images: Photography by Imogen May Make Up by Phoebe Jacob-Epstein & assisted by Yoi Wan Visual Art by Adam Frost