How much is too much Karen Mabon? Trick question guys. When it comes to this Edinburgh designer, the limit does not exist. At least if you’ve got any commitment to the kitsch, weird and wonderful. So basically anyone with a heartbeat right?
Over the last year she’s dipped her toe in to sleepwear (read: what I want to wear to the office, a killer collaboration on Despicable Me 3 and is currently Stateside showcasing her new swimwear range. I think this is what we call building an empire right? Though, if we’re going to strip it back and go back to basics, it’s always been about the scarves. They’ve always been somewhat of a love letter to the absurd with a generous helping of nostalgia – and as a result we get collections featuring kitty cat weddings, a tribute to all our favourite vices (fast food, cigarettes, Champagne and dancing) and of course jumble sales. It’s an exercise is full blown maximalism with Mabon’s captivating and quirky illustrations providing a snap shot in to her own personal brand of off-beat story-telling.
The beauty about Mabon’s work is her ability to seamlessly blend truly elegant designs (think Swan Lake, florals and finches -a classic sensibility skewing towards romanticism drawn from nature and theatre) and high trash. The juxtaposition works and her collections constantly feel cohesive. A lava lamp, a menagerie of jungle creatures and marshmallow flumps and lipstick and it feels like you’ve cracked open your brain and given it a good stir. It’s eclectic and colourful, and really more art than fashion for me (though tbh you’d be hard pushed to separate the two here.) It’s how I find myself sitting wanting to continue decorating my house with her scarves – maybe more so than wearing them. My highlights read more like a wish list with the Jumble Sale, Unhealthy, Zodiac and Confetti Cat wedding all straight up haunting my dreams.
At the heart of it, that’s why I have this continued love affair with Mabon’s work. It constantly surprises and delights and is a welcome injection of colour in to a wardrobe that otherwise veers strictly towards monochrome. Perfect for the days when you want to give in and embrace the surreal.
Photos: David N Anderson