Introducing Cecil B. DeQuinn, the London designer who has made his epic, floral-fetish reentry to fashion via a silver screen extravaganza. Latex gimp-suited cats and dogs, ballerinas and ballgowns, a story that spiralled from a red-light, nightlife London Soho-on-steroids scene through manic Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella-ish twists and turns—it had it all.
“It’s how I imagine a Richard Quinn world, and all the people in it,” he said. “It’s bigger, a lot bigger, than anything we’ve done before. I wanted to take the time to embrace film. It’s like all my sketchbooks I’ve been doing since I was at art school. And it’s an ode to Hollywood technicolor, which I love.”
If anyone thought that Quinn had gone very quiet during the pandemic—he skipped two digital London fashion seasons—he’s proved them very wrong. True, he was known to be making scrubs for NHS doctors out of his unused florals during Britain’s PPE emergency, and had pivoted to selling flowery pajamas to cheer up those endless lockdown days of working from bed. But it turns out that while mostly everyone else was binge-watching Netflix, Richard Quinn, somewhere under a railway arch in Peckham, was busy binge-designing, binge-embroidering, binge-printing, and binge-fantasizing his own movie into existence.
“Well, it was a real labor of love,” he said. “And it’s something which goes against the grain. I wanted to do something that was really creative, that was not a catwalk show, the usual. Even the really big houses are doing ‘up and down’ the catwalk again. And I thought it was nice to be able to use a dance company [the Dane Bates Collective], to have a creative outlet for them, because theaters have been shut so long.”
All it took was a hundred people on a movie set—sets which were entirely printed by Quinn, including a blue-and-white flower-printed grand piano and three London black cabs printed with psychedelic ’70s daisies. The Lilies Cole and McMenamy and UK Drag Race’s favorite star Bimini Bon-Boulash made cameo appearances. “Because I wanted it to be a showcase of what we can do in London, even in a pandemic,” he said.
The clothes? Well, the clothes appeared to be costumes, really, all the recognizable, blown-up Richard Quinn vintage haute couture pastiche shapes “with everything crafted to within an inch of its life,” as he put it. There were embroideries laden with pearls, bugle beads, sequins, and gemstones. A mini bride’s dress and matching groom’s bell-bottomed suit were sewn with gold crucifixes, padded love hearts, and tiny turtledoves. And on top of all that, he showed acres of printed pouf dresses, a whole wedding-turned-disco party packed with guys dancing in flowery suits amongst ball-gowned women.