Antony Price, designer, on a mannequin in his garden.
GB Tell me why you chose your mannequin.
AP It has always been my quest in life to make human beings look better, probably out of self-dissatisfaction. Many people in the fashion industry are in it through self-dissatisfaction and are jokingly self-loathing. Fashion people are extremely critical of themselves as well as everybody else. They apply very high standards and the snobbery of fashion is built out of understanding this language of standards. This male face is the ultimate male face. For me it represents exquisite perfection with its slit eyes and over-hanging brow. The sculptor has taken it to an extreme and chiseled it so that it’s almost the opposite of a female ideal. Whilst gardening I decided to paint it and merge it with the background with the ultimate in male kitsch which is army camouflage – then grow Virginia Creeper over it.
GB So it’s a marriage of the two things you love: fashion and nature.
AP Well there is no greater designer than nature and most designers have been inspired by it. Although I think men are turned on by machines like cars. They like women with a lot of artifice like fake breasts. So much female beauty is applied, like their makeup. Therein lies the paradox.
GB Who’s the most beautiful person that you’ve dressed?
AP It’s probably someone who is beautiful as well as nice so I would say that I can’t think of anybody more regal and poised than Iman. Of course Jerry Hall and Grace Jones – but I suppose I’m drawn to those 80s figures.
GB And is the mannequin from the 80s?
AP It was made for my South Molton Street store in the 80s. There was an athletic-looking female version too. But I think the male looks a bit like a Decca drawing from the 1930s.
GB Tell me about your garden. Is it quite wild?
AP It’s controlled. I have a lot of tropical plants, which need to be in pots so I can take them inside out of the cold. It’s hard to keep control of but I feel like it’s part of my job. I’d love to have a wild flower meadow. I have these cockerels running round that seem to sum up the male species for me. They seem to say, “Aren’t I fabulous, don’t I like great, and who’s next for sex?” And the hens are avoiding them all day long, trying not to get stuck in a corner with them. It puts the world in perspective for me.
GB What makes something worthy of the word Beauty to you?
AP Beauty is a standard that’s different for each person and I think for men it’s more tainted with sexual desire.
GB But what about with birds and flowers?
AP For me it’s extremes. My cockerels have two-meter tails. I like flowers with very intense colours. I used to have a partner who would say, “Do just what you want but half the size,” because he thought I had a tendency to overdo things. But I guess I’m a showman so that works!