The punk aesthetic – minimal, monochrome and abrasive – has been endlessly recycled. But attempts to replicate the emotional heft and unique texture of the original clothes often feel trite and dated. One label, however, has managed to harness punk’s gnarly feel.
Enfant Riches Déprimés, founded in 2012 by Henry Levy, has taken punk’s adolescent infatuation with anti-establishment aggression and repurposed it for Hollywood. The likes of Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé and Jared Leto sporting Levy’s designs – which might seem more suited to a grotty basement club with terrible toilet facilities – feels like a living art project. Its meaning is amplified by the rough translation of the label’s name: depressed rich kids.
“The name is essential a description of myself and my upbringing. I wanted to create a nihilistic luxury brand,” Levy says. The clothes are high-end rock-club wear: a distressed T-shirt with rips and hot-rock burns; a black breton top that looks as if it was rescued from a house fire; a hoodie with an ominous picture of the White House; a jumper featuring the image of Transformer-era Lou Reed – “Lou Reed is everything,” says Levy. The 25-year-old, boarding school-educated designer is living out his rebellious fantasies via his clothes.
The high prices of the clothes (ranging from the mid-hundreds to the high thousands of dollars) sit strangely with the punk aesthetic, which traditionally signals anti-capitalism. “The price point is not only a marker of value, but intrinsically part of the piece itself,” Levy says. “No pieces are alike and everything is limited. I have no interest in making affordable pieces for the masses.”
Levy’s trademark pieces are his customised, hand-painted leather jackets. They have been worn by Kardashian, Leto and, most famously, Zayn Malik on the cover of Paper magazine (“I made the jacket and then Zayn wore it on the cover of Paper”). So, what’s the appeal? “I love the leather jacket because of its multipurpose function. A heroin addict can use a leather jacket as shelter on skid row, while another person can style the leather jacket on the red carpet.”
He has also made several pieces for Beyoncé, including a top for her Formation tour, and a postbox-red layered coat with gold chains and a very 80s Soviet Union feel. “I mimicked an 80s Jean Paul Gaultier fit, which I tapered and elongated, and then sparsely added gold-plated chains where I saw fit.”
As well as luxury garments, Levy also makes objects of curiosity: distressed soft toys, narcotics spoons and, for $7,000 (£5,300), a cashmere noose. “I make pieces for myself, not for other people, not for the consumer,” he says. “If you were going to kill yourself, wouldn’t you want to do it with a $7,000 cashmere noose?”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010