The World Wide Web introduced me to Art Comes First lifestyle. From what I could gather this was a design duo living in Europe with immaculate personal style. When I met them last summer at Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy we automatically clicked because they seemed like humble down-to-earth creatives. Out of curiosity, I dig deeper to learn more about the gents behind the brand. So when Sam and Shaka was in New York for the Liberty trade show, I took the opportunity to document and interview them while they showed their latest collection.

Tell Us About Yourself

Sam Lambert: I was born in Angola and grow up between Spain and UK. Father was a bespoke tailor and mother was a trader who traveled everywhere.

Shaka Maidoh: My father's a Sartor from West African and mother's a retired nurse from the West Indies.  I was born and bred in West London and have lived in various places in between.

How did you guys become a design team and why a focus on menswear?

Sam: I became a designer after my photograph studies. It was more out of  necessity to dress myself with the right garment which fitted right and had right fabrication. I used to be around vintage market a lot when I moved to London so i end up customising everything I would buy, just by remembering what my dad used to do with thread,needle and scissors. The focus on menswear was really more like a self test almost like a mad scientist trying medicine on himself first.

Shaka: The team dynamics sparked off from common interests in vintage, traditions, cultures, hobbies and really a need to create. Creation became a necessity where the end product translated to piece of clothing, art pieces, personal wardrobe and what have you and hence menswear as it was initially and mainly personal.


Where are some of the places you pull inspiration from and how does that define the DNA of the brand?

Sam: Well we have a saying we say here at ACF HQ inspire to be inspired. We pull inspiration from everywhere really but mostly from the cultures of places I've been. Music and craft always been one of those things helped to connect the red thread. That's why one of the definition of ACF its Ancient Culture Footstep.

Shaka: Inspired by the art of life. I am a night owl, I find I hardly have to change anything I get up to in the middle of the night. 

 

Between photography, styling, designing and creative direction, do you have a preferred medium? If so, why?

Sam: To tell you the truth they all relate to each other, for my design I get massive inspiration from vintage pictures I collect, I wouldn't be able to style if I didn't know cloth and proportion, I wouldn't be able to art direct if I was never behind the camera.

Shaka: No. Art Comes First sees itself as a styling agency, as we have have a stylistic approach to designing, photography, and pretty much everything we do.

Outside of work, do you have guys have an hobbies?
 

Sam: I'm trying to be rock star I been trying to learn how to play guitar for ages now but its not working :( that's how far my hobbies go. Oh and I still carry harmonica with me everywhere I go so I can at least learn that.

Shaka: I would have said traveling but that is also part of work these days. 


What music are you listening to?

Sam: To tell the truth i was on Valerie June, The bullits and Gary Clark jr but my photographer friend Kris Moolman introduce me to David Lynch stuff i have to say its pretty addictive.

Shaka: Changed with time and place. Right now I am back on ska, constant spin of selections from Trojan records on YouTube gets me by at night.


What projects or collaborations are you currently working on?

Sam: Right now we are working on our main line called Avec Ces Freres (traveling tailoring by traveling tailoring) and our denim Apron project with DENHAM for United Arrows and of course PONY sneakers by ACF.

Shaka: All mentioned above by Sam to include photography and book project with Kristinlee Moolman, and a pop up school in Africa. 

 

How would you define the Art Comes First man? Where does he travel? What does he live?

Sam: Its a man who drinks tea, wears tie and appreciate art. He travels in concrete jungles and sometimes in snow clouds. He lives everywhere and nowhere its a true Gypsy.

Shaka: Also a constant mind traveler. 

Posted
AuthorLougè Delcy
Categories"Interview Ave"

Illustration is a powerful medium. It's fascinating that an artist can share their depiction of the world though drawings and sketches. For this post, we're introducing Matthew Miller and  Illustrator who has an impressive portfolio under his belt. His signature fashion illustration has a watercolor feel that is easily identifiable, vibrant and full of life. Here is insight of creative brainchild behind the visuals:  

Dapper - Tell Us About Yourself 

Matthew - I grew up in West Michigan, as one of five children. Drawing has been my nature since leaving the womb. There is not a time when I or anyone can remember me not drawing. I attended Grand Rapid's only art school, Kendall College of Art and Design. Found that the standards I had expected from University was only slightly different than that of public school and moved to Atlanta when I was 20. Life began teaching me who I was going to be. I met my wife Ruth, began my career as a fashion illustrator and met many people who have influenced the way that I see the world now.

Dapper - How did you get started as an illustrator? and how has your work evolved? (early work vs now) 

Matthew - I started professionally right out of school. Fashion Illustration was not my focus at the time. There was a bit of discovering who I wanted to be and what I wanted my work to do in the world. What you see now is so far from what I was doing even two years ago. The goal then was discovering myself and finding where I fit into the art world of Atlanta. Street art and community galleries are such a strong underpinning of the scene in Atlanta. Most of the young artists are always working, always creating and constantly exhibiting in small venues to hone their skills and to muster any exposure possible. That's where I was fitting in. 

Quickly I transitioned themes of vultures symbolizing the redemptive qualities of life to the symbiosis of people and animals to the expressive nature of people and their clothing. People are the main focus and men's fashion is primed for featuring the lives of individuals. That is where I am now, iterating on men's fashion and the people     who use it to express themselves.

Dapper - How did you come up with the name Sunflower Man?   

Matthew - This is a common query when people come across my work. Why Sunflowerman? It is odd to be sure. The name does not relate to my work in apparent way. It started as a summer camp identity. Young boys of 11,12 or 13 (The exact age escapes me) dream and act out fantasies of being superheros. I suppose before the age of Marvel and DC it was about being in the army or being a firefighter. 

The identity stuck with me and I constantly iterated on the idea through illustrations and writings. Everywhere I went people began to know me as Sunflowerman. When it came time to create a professional identity there wasn't much of a debate in my mind. I was already Sunflowerman. Most people react positively to the name. It brings a bit of joy to say it aloud. Sunflowerman is comical and yet the work I do is extremely professional. The stretch to connect the comical and the professional is not too difficult.

Dapper - What inspired you to focus on Menswear? and does your own personal style influence your work? 

Matthew - I cannot say for sure where the inspiration stemmed from. I did not grow up in a household that cared too much about fashion. I laugh at images of myself as a child but I know that being outside of the realm of influence has allowed me to discover fashion with new eyes. The focus of men's fashion is a focus on people. I love people and without people there is no fashion. Fashion is the perfect way to illustrate people and focus on people every day. My work has influenced my personal style much more than my style has influenced my work. 

Dapper - Are there any style icons that you consider to be a muse?

Matthew - Tough question. Patrick Grant, on the suggestion of friend was an initial muse of mine. It is hard to argue with his sense of tradition and the way he handles the fashion business. Others such as Walter Van Beirendonck have allowed me to view the traditions in men's fashion with a crazy eclectic eye. Currently I am soaking in the styles of everyone around me. The stories of how people have discovered their own 'Dapper Man' and the images they choose to share with the world are highly influential for me. 

Dapper - Outside of drawing, what do you do? any cool hobbies? 

Matthew - Yikes. So many people today do so many amazing things. Technology has made the Renaissance Man an every day man. My focus seems to be much more narrow. Every day I am drawing and painting and experimenting with textures, mediums and substrates. Outside of this my wife and I are traveling through Europe and soaking in cultures. We are attempting to learn the languages and the nuances that make up a culture within different countries. Currently our obsession is Portugal. There is so much history that has shaped our modern world in Portugal and Spain. In the age of exploration Portugal was on the leading edge. Magellan and Vasco Do Gama are two notable names that conquered the ocean and brought enormous wealth to such a tiny swath of the European landscape. While I am painting I also listen to podcasts. I am obsessed with podcasts. What I hoped I would learn in University (and did not) can be found in heaps through podcasts. Information about history and marketing, art and culture, comedy and mathematics- the access is nearly limitless. I have found my true education through the generosity of people sharing what they love in life.

Dapper -What music are you currently listening to? 

Matthew - I am always exposed for being lacking in musical culture with this question. Music is probably the greatest influencer of the last 60 years and yet I am sorely lacking in my depth of knowledge and appreciation here. What you could find me listening to lately is as follows: 

Avett Brothers, Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, Johnny Cash, Thelonious Monk, Kanye West,Big Boi,The Shins and Eminem. I think I'm revealing myself as a musical hipster. 

Dapper - Do you have a favorite drawing or painting?

Matthew - I am more a fan of styles and techniques. Individual paintings are simply a piece of the great work of an artist's career (Though some works stand out amongst a collection). The work of N.C.Wyeth, David Downton, Alphonse Mucha, Egon Schiele, Greg Simkins, Caravaggio  are all artists who have changed my life with the works they create and have created. I can sit and bathe in the works of the artists for hours upon hours. My soul is washed in their color and movement, in the ways that they use lines and figures.

Dapper - What projects are you working on?

Matthew - I am several months in to the 100 Watches Project where I take the submission of people's favorite watches and paint them on old Sherlock Holmes book pages. I have been painting one a day since the project began and will end with number 100. After that there are some peripheral projects that directly relate and enhance the collection. Submissions for that are now closed, but I am taking commissions on watch paintings still.

The Daily Fashion Project is also several months along now and has become the center piece of what I do. Anyone can submit their style through a form at sunflowerman.com. I paint one each week-day and share it on the site and social media. The goal with the Daily Fashion Project is to gather the stories of people who have been influenced by fashion and to share them with the community. The iteration of the individual styles through watercolor is a way to look past the person and see the way they present themselves in an artistic (and what I hope is a more neutral way). Breaking down the barriers of persons and seeing the stories of the community through individual people.

Dapper - Where can we follow your journey? 

Matthew - You can follow Sunflowerman atsunflowerman.com - which is the main hub of everything I do. Otherwise I can be found on Instagram @sunflowerman and on Twitter @sunflowermatt.

Posted
AuthorDapper Lou
Categories"Interview Ave"

Brooklyn-based Author Joekenneth Museau is making moves. Over the summer, he released his first book titled, "Tales of a Troubled Romantic," hosted poetry readings, and traveled to Kingston, Jamaica to name a few. Last friday I finally got him to take a quick brunch break at Cafe Rue Dix, a French Senegalese restaurant in Crown Heights.  Get to know this talented and creative force that certainly has an intriguing story.

Dapper - Tell us about yourself.

Joekenneth Museau - My name is Joekenneth Museau. I’m 23 years old. I am a Brooklyn-bred spoken word artist and author of Haitian decent.

Dapper - How did you get started as a writer?

Joekenneth Museau - I began writing raps at age of 11, in an effort to prove to myself that I was better than Lil Bow Wow and Lil Romeo. Haha! The content and style of my writing underwent a transformation as I transitioned into putting together poetic pieces during the time my parents were going through a divorce. My writing became purely cathartic; a way to deal with emotional turmoil in a creative way. In my early adolescence---after my parents separated---I expanded the subject matter of my poetry. I was exposed to the literature of Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Edgar Allen Poe and many other writers during my years in high school. My affinity for language arts spurred me on to write about teenage romance, internal tribulations and social issues that I observed in my community. It was during my last two years of high school where I began writing with the idea to have my poems exist, not only on paper, but also for the purpose of performance. Thereafter, I became more acquainted with the spoken word poetry scene; influenced by Kesed, Falu, Soulful Jones, RIP MC (Jamie Lee Lewis), JQ Lyric and The Strivers Row.

Dapper - What inspired you to write the book "Tales of a Troubled Romantic"?

Joekenneth Museau - Tales of a Troubled Romantic was inspired by my personal experiences with women. I began writing love poems when I had my first girlfriend at 15 years old. Ever since then, I’ve had a number of unique interactions with the opposite sex. The work therefore covers the span of about 8 years. The theme of “troubled romance” tells of an honest self-examination; scrutinizing my imperfections and the mistakes that I’ve made in the arena of relationships. Throughout the course of the book, I make it my aim to articulate the various conflicts of a man; whether it is love versus lust or that of entertaining genuine, amorous feelings for two women at the same time. Aside from the romance, there are poems which offer social commentary on sexual abuse and woman empowerment among other issues. What must be said, however, is that I wrote TTR with men as my target audience. There are prevailing stereotypes about men masking emotion behind the veil of logic and putting on bravado rather than coming to grips with heartbreak. I want men to read this book in an effort to encourage them to cultivate emotional bravery. Vulnerability shouldn’t be taboo especially when it can aid in an individual’s growth. It is important that we admit to when we’re wrong, to express remorse and to change a wayward course in regards to our relationships with women. 

Dapper - Outside of writing, what are some of your interest?

Joekenneth Museau - Well, when I’m not writing, I’m reading. I read a portion of the Bible daily. As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I engage in a volunteer work to help others appreciate the Bible’s message. People who have heard or read any of my poems may have noticed that there’s a great deal of Biblical imagery in my work. Those allusions have a direct connection to my affinity for Scripture. I also have a healthy eBay addiction to quench my menswear needs. And although I’ve pledged to not to take up a Canon camera, I do enjoy mobile photography with the aid of VSCO CAM.

Dapper - You recently went on a trip to Jamaica, can you tell us about your experience? And does traveling inspire your work, if so how?

Joekenneth Museau - My recent trip to Jamaica was my second visit to the island but my first time in Kingston. Instead of spending time in a resort and enjoying the island life of a commercialized “Jamaica,” I was able to stay with a family who are native Jamaicans. I traveled with my friend, George and his mother. It was a wonderful experience! I had authentic, home-cooked Jamaican cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We drove around the city, which was a peculiar experience because the steering wheel is on the right side of the vehicle. I was able to visit the gorgeous Hellshire Beach and Caymans River. I even had the opportunity to visit Cockburn Pen---which is one of the “hoods” in Kingston--- where I got a haircut in an elevated, makeshift barber shop. The only thing I don’t miss about Jamaican is the cold showers that I had to take.

Although I don’t get the opportunity to travel often, I love visiting areas outside of the United States. Being in a new environment and observing the culture of the people is an enlightening experience. Traveling helps my writing in that it allows me to have a broader view of the human experience, nature, colors, tastes and the many facets of life, whether tangible or intangible. As I travel more, I’ll be able to improve my use of metaphors, similes and allusions.

Dapper - Does your writing style influence your personal style? If so, how?

Joekenneth Museau - It works the other way around. My personal style influences my writing. I’m a 90s baby. I grew up in an era where Hip-Hop culture was flourishing. The soundtrack to my upbringing is embedded in the rhythm of my work. In my younger years, my style was a product of Hip-Hop culture. Baggy jeans, logos, the Louis Vuitton coin purse hanging from my belt loop, I mean everything. As I’ve refined my style to favor a more sartorial perspective, I have also paid attention to sharpening my writing. In effect, I find myself tailoring my poems; attempting to convey an idea with the use of fewer words. But by no means am I a dandy or a college-degree intellectual. The leather jogging pants and Jordan boxes that are in my closet are a reflection of the edginess present in some of my writings.

Dapper - Name a few writers that inspire your work. Why?

Joekenneth Museau - The entire Strivers Row collective inspires me. The artists include Joshua Bennett, Miles Hodges, Carvens Lissaint, Alysia Harris, Jasmine Mans and Zora Howard. I would go on for hours if I were to specifically point out what each artist brings to the table in terms of writing and performance style. The Strivers are well-read and traveled writers. The body of their work is honest, brash, emotional, political and entirely awe-inspiring. Every time I attend one of their shows I leave with a new idea for a piece. I admire the amount of energy and dedication they put into their craft.

Dapper - What music are you currently listening to?

Joekenneth Museau - Man…I listen to so much music. I really, really love music. I know I’m one of many people who have been let down by the radio and mainstream music so I tend to scour SoundCloud in an effort to find musical gems from underground artist. Aside from the new albums by Drake and Pusha T, I’m listening to Majid Jordan, Janelle Monae, Lorine Chia, Jimi Nxir, Parley D’amour, The Internet, Quadron, Sango, BOY/FRIEND and Terrance Martin. That’s my abbreviated list.

Dapper - What projects are you currently working on?

Joekenneth Museau - I was recently featured in Street Etiquette’s SLUMFLOWER editorial. There are some pieces that I wrote which are in the print version of the editorial available for sale on SE’s website. I’m currently working on a collaborative project with Chicago-based photographer Lawrence Agyei entitled “Seams of Sorrow.” I am also in the beginning stages of my next book which is a dedication to my late mother, Josette Rene-Museau, who passed away from cancer last year. I did a 14-day photographic tribute about her via my Instagram account earlier this year entitled “May Flowers” with the hashtag #MayFlowersbyJK. The book will include the textual content from the tribute as well as a collection of photographs to capture the essence of what I was able to do through use of my iPhone. The book will include brand new poems and memoirs. Admittedly, it will be an extremely emotional undertaking. However, I want to release “Days After Your Departure” to assist caregivers and loved ones to those battling cancer and/or who have lost a loved in death to the illness. My motto is “you can only have memories if you create them now.” I want to encourage family and friends to spend as much quality time with a loved one fighting aggressive cancer so that they can reflect on the good times that they’ve had after the fight is over. The memories I have of my mother helped me tremendously during my grieving process. I just want to help others to do the same through a creative means.  

Dapper - Where can we follow your journey?

Joekenneth Museau - You can follow my journey on Instagram and Twitter: @JKSchwaza. And also through my website,Joekenneth.com. Thank you for your time Lou!

Posted
AuthorDapper Lou
Categories"Interview Ave"

PR Consultant Matthew Zorpas is first up for my new interview series called "Interview Ave", that will feature people with interesting style and stories on the streets. Last month, Matthew was nice enough to give me a tour of London despite my short visit. He showed me some of the coolest spots like the Tate Modern museum, we walked over the Golden Jubilee Bridge with a view of the London Eye, and passed by the historical Trafalgar Square. Finally, we ended up on Savile Row, and what better way to kick off the interview series than on the birthplace of bespoke tailoring? 

Tell me a little bit about yourself?  

I'm Matthew and I'm 24 years old. I'm originally from Cyprus but I have been living in London for the past five years. I graduated in Public Relations and I'm currently lecturing at Istituto Marangoni. I'm also the London Correspondent for Un nouveau Ideal, voted the second best dressed man in Britain and I'm also a firm supporter of new generation designers. 

You were recently named second best dressed man by Esquire UK. How do you stand out in such a fashion forward town? 

As forward as people think London is, honestly the city pays minimum attention to new talents and designers. I spent a great amount of time researching and discovering new talents from graduation shows all around the world. From Hong Hong to Antwerp, from London to  New York. I manage to pick up on the catwalk trends and present them in the streets ahead of time. 

What projects are you working on?

I'm currently preparing the wardrobe for a British film, lecturing at Istituto Marangoni and also working on a product design to be launched hopefully in the summer. Follow me @matthewzorpas for updates. 

If you were not working in fashion, what would you be doing? And why?

Anywhere that I can still be creative and revolutionary. I would love to work for European Committee or Cyprus Embassy in their cultural department. I like working on projects which directly help young people and make a difference to the world. 

What are some of your favorites places to hangout in London and why? 

Gordon's wine bar cause its relaxed and unpretentious 

Sketch for the deco and smashing cocktails

BBB Notting Hill for the tasty snacks and stylish crowd

Describe your best childhood memory.

The family trip in Disneyland Paris on my second grade. I still remember the magical lights parade, Michael Jackson waving from the hotel room and mum and dad joining me in the crazy rides!

What's on your playlist?

Yann Tiersen - Le Phare, Les Jours Heureux and Lana del Rey - Born to die, Without you. 

If time travel was possible where and when would you live?

Paris in the 50s. 

Who or what is your current inspirations? And why?

Six Lee, Liria Pristine, HLH, Tina Elisabeth and Kay Kwok are designers that I look up to for inspirations but mainly instinct has been one of the largest driving factors behind selecting and putting together my outfits. Life wise, my partners in life always turned to be inspirational.

What books are you reading?

I'm more of a visual person, I'm very easily distracted. My last purchase was Hedi Slimane's Rock Diary. 

Number one fashion faux- pas? 

Suits and trainers.

Posted
AuthorDapper Lou
Categories"Interview Ave"