IN­TER­VIEW WITH THE VAM­PIRE’S WIFE

Harper’s Bazaar (Australia) - - Contents -

De­signer Susie Cave.

Fash­ion muse turned maker with a mod­el­ling ca­reer wor­thy of le­gend, English siren SUSIE CAVE chose a moniker in­spired by hus­band Nick’s aban­doned book project to launch the new­est la­bel to know. By DIVYA BALA

“HE TOOK ONE LOOK AT ME and told me to go back to school,” says Susie Cave (nee Bick) of her first en­counter, at the age of 14, with leg­endary pho­tog­ra­pher Steven Meisel. Lit­tle did he know that Cave’s im­mi­nent mod­el­ling ca­reer would pro­vide an ed­u­ca­tion in it­self, and, along with a childhood predilec­tion for sewing and the chif­fon tea dresses and welling­ton boots worn by her fel­low stu­dents at Dart­ing­ton Hall School, would even­tu­ally pave the way to her re­cently launched dress la­bel, the Vam­pire’s Wife.

Hav­ing been scouted on the streets of New York (after run­ning away from the afore­men­tioned English board­ing school), the be­guil­ing beauty heeded Meisel’s ad­vice and re­turned to her stud­ies. But with her oth­er­worldly al­abaster skin and strik­ing raven-black hair, it was not long un­til she was back in front of the lens for the likes of Guy Bour­din, Hel­mut New­ton, Nick Knight and David Bai­ley.yet Cave pre­ferred to be out of the spot­light, de­scrib­ing her be­hav­iour dur­ing her mod­el­ling days as “ter­ri­ble, re­ally — very un­pro­fes­sional. I had a habit of flee­ing the scene of the crime if I thought the ses­sion was go­ing to turn out badly. It’d be a sit­u­a­tion of crawl­ing out of the bath­room win­dow and run­ning for my life.” How­ever, this re­luc­tance to be pho­tographed in­spired some truly breath­tak­ing por­traits and, in turn, a life­long fas­ci­na­tion with fash­ion. “i found it quite painful be­ing pho­tographed, ini­tially,” she told Match­es­fash­ion.com. “so I think, for me, the at­trac­tion was of­ten to do with wear­ing these won­der­ful clothes with dif­fer­ent things, not hav­ing one par­tic­u­lar style and work­ing with many dif­fer­ent de­sign­ers.”

Cave’s pow­ers of se­duc­tion were just as strong away from the cam­era. Long-time friend and col­league Kate Moss, who cast Cave as her co-star in the cam­paign for her Equip­ment col­lab­o­ra­tion, gushes, “i grew up with Susie when I was first work­ing. I kind of get shy when she’s around. She’s so fem­i­nine — all woman!” Also sus­cep­ti­ble to her wiles was Aus­tralian mu­si­cian Nick Cave. In the 2014 doc­u­men­tary 20,000 Days on Earth, he de­scribes, in his sig­na­ture prose, meet­ing his now wife: “when she came

walk­ing in, all the things I’d ob­sessed over for all the years … All the end­less and pos­si­ble fan­tasies … All the stuff I’d heard and seen and read.all the con­tin­u­ing, never-end­ing drip feed of erotic data came to­gether in that one mo­ment in one big crash-bang and I was lost to her and that was that.” Suf­fice it to say, over the course of their 17-year mar­riage, she has pro­vided the in­spi­ra­tion for many of his sen­sual, love-fu­elled rock bal­lads.

In some­thing of a closed cre­ative cir­cuit, it was her hus­band who pro­vided her fash­ion la­bel’s name. It was the work­ing ti­tle of a book Nick had pitched to a pub­lisher, but the de­ci­sion to dis­con­tinue the project al­lowed Cave to adopt the name. “It re­volved around the pub­lish­ing of some lovely pho­tos our dear friend Do­minique Isser­mann had taken of me over the years — very spe­cial pho­tos,” she ex­plains.“it was sup­posed to be an ex­am­i­na­tion of the role of the muse. Any­way, the book was aban­doned and we thought The Vam­pire’s Wife was a great name for the com­pany, that it was play­ful and funny and mem­o­rable.”

While the words ‘play­ful’ and ‘funny’ might not be the first one thinks of when con­sid­er­ing any cre­ative seed of the Caves’ (Nick is of­ten re­ferred to as rock’s Prince of Dark­ness, after all), her col­lec­tions do have a cer­tain airi­ness and whimsy to them. Cave’s pieces are de­mure, fem­i­nine — girly, even — tem­pered with vin­tage ac­cents such as mi­cro ruf­fles, full skirts, midi lengths and jac­quard place­ments.the em­pha­sis is on sil­hou­ette and fab­ri­ca­tion; stream­lined, body-skim­ming styles are re­alised in Lib­erty prints, Bri­tish shirt­maker’s cot­ton and be­spoke silks en­gi­neered by one of only two silk mills left in the coun­try — which also hap­pens to work with the archives of Marie An­toinette.

De­signs are guided by Cave’s own sar­to­rial in­stincts, which she de­scribes as “chaotic, mostly”. She ex­plains modestly: “The way I dress is usu­ally last-minute, in­tu­itive and at odds with what­ever the oc­ca­sion may be.” Though to look over her public ap­pear- an­ces, rich in gothic vel­vets, plush black fur and lace, one would be in­clined to dis­agree. Her in­stincts, in turn, in­form her de­sign choices, with Cave road­test­ing each piece.“i tend to put what­ever I cre­ate on, and if I look bet­ter in it, I know I’m onto some­thing,” she says.“i ba­si­cally work on the premise that if I love the gar­ment — you know, if it’s made with love — chances are other peo­ple are go­ing to love it too.at least re­spond pos­i­tively to the en­ergy within it.” And they do: the de­signer can al­ready list such dis­cern­ing cou­ture en­thu­si­asts as Cate Blanchett and Tilda Swin­ton as fans.

When asked about the brand’s ethos, Cave says, “My per­sonal wish is peo­ple will look at a per­son wear­ing avam­pire’swife dress and think ‘What a beau­ti­ful woman’, not ‘What a beau­ti­ful dress’.” In Susie Cave’s case, it’s both. The­vam­pire’swife is avail­able from match­es­fash­ion.com and the­vam­pireswife.com.

“The way I dress is usu­ally last-minute, in­tu­itive and at odds with what­ever the oc­ca­sion may be.”

Cave in pieces from The Vam­pire’s Wife.

Nick and Susie Cave pho­tographed by Do­minique Isser­mann.

The Vam­pire’s Wife dresses, $770 (left), and $875, match­es­fash­ion.com. From far left: the new col­lec­tion; Cate Blanchett in The Vam­pire’s Wife skirt; the de­signer with her hus­band, Nick Cave.

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