“This is insane! You don’t find places like this in America,” says Chris Peters, one half of Chicago-born label Creatures of the Wind. “We don’t have that many palaces back home.”

We’re in a drawing room inside Spencer House, the palatial, 18th-century mansion overlooking Green Park in London. It’s a day before he and Shane Gabier, the other half of Creatures of the Wind, are to make their grand European debut here with their resort 2017 collection – and their excitement is palpable. “Actually, this will be our first runway show outside of New York,” says Gabier. “It’s going to be a grand debut.”

“Eclectic” and “quirky” are words often used to describe their collections, which are never shy of rich colours, intricate patterns and wide-ranging references from the worlds of music, design and art. And in this sense, the army parkas and crepe de chine dresses, all hand-embroidered with 18th and 19th-century botanical motifs, somehow fit right in with the mansion’s opulent, English eclecticism.

A look from Creatures of the Wind's resort 2017 collection

Besides being the brand’s first show in Europe, this resort collection (a collaboration with online retailer Farfetch held last Wednesday) marks its foray into the “show now, buy now” model. “We are live streaming the show on Farfetch and Vogue, where people can buy the pieces immediately afterwards,” says Peters.

While their spring/summer 2017 collection will not be sold straight off the runway, the designers say that this one-off opportunity to sell the e-resort collection directly through Farfetch has opened their eyes to having a live, selling component to a show. Gabier adds, “The whole system of fashion is in a big state of flux right now. But I think that the upside to this is that we can re-evaluate and make changes.”

Before the show, we caught up with the duo to talk about Chicago beginnings, modernist designs and why arguments can be good.

A look from Creatures of the Wind's resort 2017 collection

Why did you call your resort 2017 collection “Harmonium”?

Gabier: A harmonium is a pump organ first made during the 1500s. This classical instrument later became popular in traditional Indian music and was very prominently used in horror movies from the 60s and 70s. We liked the idea that something can have a narrative and that it can be broken or changed. We also wanted to recreate the feeling of slightly occult moments.

Creatures of the Wind began in Chicago in 2008. Was it difficult not being from New York?

Peters: At the time, being from a smaller city, it was much more difficult in America to be perceived as having value in the fashion scene. Chicago didn’t really – and doesn’t really – have much of a fashion scene. But we were just like, “Well, if we’re going to be doing this, we have to do it better than anyone else out there. We have to do it better than they’re doing it in New York.”  

How did you guys meet?

Gabier: We both went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I was teaching there at the time and Chris was about to transfer schools. And then we met and started dating and then started making things together in the studio in my house shortly after.

Peters: Shane was quite quiet so I thought he was pretty mysterious. He’s not mysterious. [Laughs] But I thought he was at the time. We’ve been together now for nine years, which is insane!

When designing collections, do you have arguments often?

Both: Oh, all the time.

Gabier: We do argue about things but it forces you to come to a conclusion at some point. And it’s not just one person working inside his or her own head.


A look from Creatures of the Wind's resort 2017 collection

How did modernist designers influence your autumn/winter 2016 collection?

Peters: We were looking at Ray and Charles Eames, Ikko Tinoko and Carl Auböck. The phrase we kept coming back to for that collection was “soft modernist”. The designers I mentioned all approached modernism through a more organic lens. There was something softer and very human about their designs. When we think about modernist architecture or design, people tend to associate them with being cool and detached. But we were looking at it from a different angle.

What’s the story behind the richly embroidered jackets from the resort 2017 collection?

Peters: We made a series of five jackets, which all have different hand-embroidery on them with 18th and 19th-century botanicals from French, German and English artists. They took around three to four weeks each to embroider so they are really special and are not things you can do for bigger production runs for the main collections.

Who are your customers?

Peters: We have customers who are in their nineties and are specialists in Renaissance art. And then we have social media stars and reality TV stars that buy our clothes as well.

Gabier: I really think the most important thing is that someone can see one thing in our collection, or remove one thing from the collection, that becomes more part of their personal narrative. It’s really great to see the range of women that can buy into our brand.

Interview by Jainnie Cho