Artist Banks Violette brings Hedi Slimane’s punk fantasy to life

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All photos courtesy of Celine.

Last week, Celine Homme presented its Fall/Winter 22 collection, boy doll, at L’Olympia Bruno Coquatrix, the legendary venue in Paris. Debuting on the vast theater stage with a soundtrack courtesy of Swedish punk mainstay SHITKID, boy doll reframes the house’s love for fluid, glam-punk-meets-Berlin-wave designs for a new era. All-over leather looks, mirror-slicked hair and shield-shaped sunglasses signal Celine’s nod to the e-boy aesthetic of an increasingly sexless fashion moment. creative director Hedi Slimane called on eight visual artists to contribute graphic works to the collection. One such artist is Banks Violette, a longtime friend and collaborator of Slimane, whose paintings draw heavily from the death metal and punk subcultures that defined his youth. Slimane selected two images – a black flag and a galloping stallion – from Violette’s work to boy doll. Here, Violette tells us about her death metal roots, following her teenagers and working with Slimane.

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SOPHIE LEE: How’s your day going?

VIOLET: My day was wonderful. My wife is out of town, as are my two teenage daughters-in-law. So I got a really quiet house, which is great. Normally there would be a lot going on in the background during this interview.

LEE: How did you first meet Hedi Slimane? I read it was in New York.

VIOLET: Honestly, I don’t remember! It was a long time ago. I think we met at the time of my show at the Whitney, when he was still at Dior. I have known him for some time and he has always been very supportive of my work. I worked with him, along with a bunch of other artists, to design a bunch of Dior stores. I ended up doing the Osaka one. So I have known him for a long time.

LEE: What was your process for working on this collection?

VIOLET: Hedi made a selection from my old images, and I was totally happy that he was using them. I did two drawings, which I think he ended up using as well. It’s one of those things: if you see a badly reproduced image of something you’ve done, that you have a lot of affection for, it’s going to irritate you. But these designs were based on works that I was delighted to see reproduced in other materials.

LEE: The two pieces you mention are an American flag and a white horse.

VIOLET: It’s true. The American flag is an older image and the horse is one of the newer designs I’ve done. They both totally work.

LEE: Of the three Celine looks that have these images on them, do you have a favorite?

VIOLET: Not particularly. I’ve always admired Hedi’s aesthetic, no matter what he does. It’s a bit like a Dick Hebdige, you know? It taps into all of these references that I really respond to, and it manages to put them together in a way that I never would have thought of myself. It’s cool to be involved in this process. It makes me totally happy.

LEE: Punk fashion and e-boy fashion influenced this collection. Do you know the e-boys?

VIOLET: I have teenagers, so yes.

LEE: So they told you about the e-boys. What do you think of these younger elements of the collection?

VIOLET: I love that kind of stuff. I have my own history with subcultures. It’s something that has always fascinated me. To see those cultures refracted and revived by a group of younger people is great. I don’t live in New York anymore, and one of the hardest things about moving out of town – I’m in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York – is that it’s more difficult to find inspiration. Like, I’m not going to be inspired by a tree. Seeing a child on the subway who has decorated his backpack in a crazy way now is a huge generator of ideas. Being removed from this environment caused a very big change.

LEE: What subcultures did you associate with as a teenager?

VIOLET: I was a goofy, punk-rocker. I was into all the hardcore – New York hardcore, straight edge hardcore, stuff like that. I had a lot of friends who played in bands and had record labels. It’s my guilty past.

Violet Banks. Photo courtesy of the artist.

LEE: There’s a big post-punk resurgence going on right now.

VIOLET: There seem to be all these new bands that are, like, the fifth generation of artists who make music from the standpoint, “I’m a deeply emotional punk-rock kid in my garage.” which is great. This thing has a weird motto. It keeps coming back, and coming back, and coming back.

LEE: Is there anyone you would like to see wearing this collection? Who do you plan to wear something that wears your work?

VIOLET: I have to say it. My ex-wife, Alissa Bennett, works at Gladstone. She used to be a model – and she was also a punk rocker, so she loves that kind of stuff. I’m super excited to be involved with this collection, and she’s giddy about it. So I have to say Alissa. I know that would make her happy.

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