Adam Kimmel brings new meaning to “dressing for dinner” with the latest addition to his ever-expanding list of creative collaborations. Shoes-laced, tie-knotted, shirt-buttoned, David Blaine breathed deep and dived deeper, all for a quick BITE.
Long-time fans of Mr Kimmel’s work, i-D has keenly documented his collaborations and referencing of some cracking creative thinkers. Clowning-around with George Condo (The Home Is Where The Heart Is Issue), look-booking with Ryan McGinley and Jack Piersen (The Couples Issue) and referencing the hyper masculine Abstract Expressionists of the ‘40s (The Who’s That Girl Issue), his collections are a bit of this, a bit of that, and more than just a bit major. Consistently making the kind of menswear that boys want to wear and girls think they look hot in, the added excitement the creative cauldron brews keep Adam’s Kimmel-clad following on their toes!
Showing his collection for the first time on the catwalk this summer in Paris, and filling rails from London to Hong Kong, A.K. is fast hitting new heights but keeping a keen eye on throwing out the unexpected. Fascinated by illusionist, magician and general man of marvels David Blaine, Adam navigated a labyrinthine network of people-who-know-people-who-know-people, to present the miracle maker with an open brief. The outcome? An incredbile feat of endurance, nerve and tenacity (not to mention a pretty gnatty tux). i-D online slipped into our Speedos and braved the Atlantic chill for a quick chat with Adam in New York.
How did the project come about? After working on the skate film back in 2009, I wanted to do something that played with the suspension of disbelief. I’d seen David on TV and heard rumours about his abilities through friends, but when you see what he really does in person, you realise just how real it is. So I went to him and he had so many different ideas but the one that stuck out was him swimming, in a tuxedo, with sharks. Earlier, he had tagged along with a group of scientists off the coast of Mexico on a deserted, volcanic island called Guadalupe. While he was there he had just jumped off the boat and started swimming around with the great whites. His buddy put a camera out and filmed him doing it, then he showed me that clip and he got all excited and was like “Kimmel, this was two minutes! Can you imagine what we could do with one week down there?!” It was exciting to speculate but none of us imagined that it would actually go through.
Tell us a bit about how things unfolded? Eventually we wound up in Tijuana, took a boat for 24 hours to Guadalupe and spent a week there. It was a crazy experience, there’s no hospitals or helicopter access or anything, I was just on the boat watching sharks circle around him all day. David would be lowered down with his friend (this freediver named Kirk Krack) and the cameraman, he would breathe off of Kirk’s tank and then just head out into this wild place. You’re out there, and these sharks are swimming by David, checking him out all day long and they’re fascninated by him and you’re just like, “When is one gonna take a bite?!”
Did he keep calm? Yeah, he was totally, totally cool. I couldn’t believe it, he was so calm about the whole thing. That’s part of it, it’s important to remain calm, the sharks can sense your heart rate. Even when he’s doing the breath-holds, he had to keep his heart-rate down. It was a really crazy thing and I’m really happy he made it out of there.
So creatively, he was kind of in control of the concept? Yeah, it was his idea. And we just went on this journey together. It’s long been a dream of his. He set the world record for holding his breath underwater live on the Oprah Winfrey show last year. He held his breath for seventeen and a half minutes and was keen to take that into the wild, and his favourite was with the great white sharks! What he did almost feels National Geographic, and I really was so grateful. I really love what I do and if along the way you manage to meet someone like David and get something back it makes the whole process much richer.
How do you go about arriving at your chosen creative collaborators and how do you choose your references? It just has to feel right. Usually the idea comes first and then I try to work with an artist, or someone who’s a specialist in that field. In this case, it was very special, I went to David and he’s a kind of lunatic genius who knows the paranormal and knows every stunt and trick. He really is brilliant and it was really cool working with him. There’s just a huge cloud of excitement hanging over him and it’s been amazing to get to know him.
Now you’re showing the collection in a more conventional way, are these projects a kind of performative, creative outlet? I just try to keep everything coming. Keep it fresh and keep it interesting. I did the runway show very straight-forwardly this year, I was interested to try that but also it just happened naturally in that the space we had for the show was kind of restrictive. I was like, “Ok, I guess we’re just going to have a straight-up runway show and that’s gonna be fun to try.” Next season, I’ve got to shuffle the cards around and make things new. The electricity has to be there, in every project that I do I have to feel the electricity and that’s what I follow. I’m really excited about what’s happening for this season and for next season and I hope it all comes together.
Text: Sean Baker