Behind The Garden Edit, with David Nolan
We spoke to stylist, and long-time friend of Turnbull, David Nolan about his experience working on our latest campaign, The Garden Edit, as well as his own lockdown wardrobe, favourite vintage finds, and the importance of the BFI Player for staying sane and inspired.
You created the series of photographs for our campaign ‘The Garden Edit’ with your friend, and photographer, Ben McMahon, where did you first meet, and what are your first memories of each other?
The first time we had met was through mutual friends, I seem to remember it being in a pub on Mare Street one evening. Ben is a very easy-going, amiable person. Not long after this it turned out we were both looking for a new flat to move into at the same time, we looked together and took the one from the shoot in Stamford Hill. Seven years later and here we are making these pictures!
Had you worked together before lockdown and how was it transitioning from housemates to colleagues?
We had worked together before lockdown on various editorial projects for fashion magazines. We have made some beautiful imagery together in the past, a few of which we had utilised our home space.
How did you keep inspired and motivated during the lockdown?
I think one of the things which really helped inspire me through lockdown was turning to films for inspiration. For a long time, I have enjoyed reading but had felt in a strange way distracted from this during such a tumultuous period. So, I turned to film instead for what felt like a much-needed alternative. I subscribed to BFI Player, which is a nothing short of a treasure trove for real cinema. I think the first few things to really wow me on there were: Picnic at Hanging Rock, Onibaba, The Seventh Seal, and the list could go on and on!
With a lot of your friends working in the creative industries, what has this time taught you?
It has taught me the importance of creating personal work aside from commissioned projects. Ben and I, throughout the whole period, developed more conceptual photographic projects of our own to keep our creative minds working, and through doing this I have discovered a real love for still life. It is taken until now to realise how creative and fulfilling this can be!
Has your style changed during of lockdown, if so, how?
The thing is, what I have worn from home has been something of a uniform for an exceptionally long time now... some very beat up vintage corduroy trousers, a pair of well-loved Tricker's house shoes and a rotation of older softened linen shirts. So much the same as ever personally!
You have an extensive collection of vintage menswear, what are your favourite pieces in your collection?
That is a hard one! But the following three:
A pure camelhair knitted V-neck pullover found in Camden Market made for one of the knitwear specialists which used to exist a long time ago on the Burlington Arcade, such beautiful quality.
A golden silk shirt made by Turnbull in the 1960s, I had found in Hornets vintage, which I consider an incredibly special piece. It has a cocktail cuff, is the most unusual colour for silk, and has such a beautiful raised texture. I have featured this piece in quite a few shoots now, as well as wearing it personally so it has been valuable to me.
A West Indian Sea Island Cotton shirt (even has the W.I.S.I.C.A authentication label stitched in the hem), that I found for the grand total of £1 in a second-hand store in Notting Hill. For me, it illustrates how rewarding taking the time to find such treasures can be. You can strike gold hunting for vintage.
As we adjust to the ‘new normal,’ what would you recommend building into one’s 'working from home' wardrobe?
Simply invest in pieces that make you feel good about yourself when you wear them and help give a good start to your day. My home wardrobe may be well worn by now, but those pieces are made with care and from good fabrics, to begin with. It still brings me a lot of pleasure to wear these clothes. It is about comfort, breathability, and ease of movement. Shirts in linen for warmer days, cotton-cashmere for cooler ones. Even try removing the collar stiffeners, if you can, as you are less likely to wear a tie. Pleated cotton trousers for added ease of movement, as having them perfectly pressed is no longer so important. Cashmere knitwear, and never underestimate the feel-good factor of slipping on well-made cotton (or wool on cooler days) pair of socks, it is an underrated affordable luxury!
Please talk to the idea of ‘deformalising’ classic Turnbull pieces.
Making these images from home was a way of exploring how we might deformaliSe what are originally classic items of clothing. Opting for single button, easier to roll, cuffs instead of double. Removing collar stays and popping an extra button at the neck of a formal shirt. For knits going for a fuller size for ease of movement. Cotton for trousers for less maintenance and dressing up the classic cotton pyjama shirt!
What is the significance of The Yellow Book?
The Yellow Book was a late Victorian quarterly journal associated with aestheticism. It is a treasure of an object and the copy shown in the shoot features a cover illustration by the artist Aubrey Beardsley, who's retrospective was about to open at the Tate Britain when lockdown set in. I had planned to visit it with my mum and am excited that we can now do so as the Tate will reopen. Feels relevant and symbolic in a way as something lovely to look ahead to for me.
As we start to re-emerge, what are your hopes for the future of the creative industries?
Regarding the clothing industry, at least, I just hope in some way it may become more considerate and really embrace the concept of quality over quantity. To view a garment as something to buy with thoughtfulness, to take pleasure and pride in, and take diligent care of. Good clothes that are made with care and owned with care should last many years.