Baby Look After Yourself Please

Rene on style, inspiration and the creative process behind her collection with Collusion.

Join us in conversation with one of our first design collaborators, Rene Matić as she describes what inspires her work, passions and her new collection with us entitled ‘Baby Look After Yourself Please.’ We manage to catch a busy Rene for a chat in between the installation for the upcoming COLLUSION x Rene Matić exhibition and the launch of the accompanying collection. Although softly spoken it becomes immediately apparent when speaking that Rene is an intense force to be reckoned with who is unafraid to challenge the societal status quo. Her design collaboration with us brings together some of the themes she’s passionate about and the styles she’s most comfortable in.

Shapes within the collection are oversized and relaxed to directly reflect Rene’s taste, personality and sense of style. An oversized puffer appears as a classic homage to sportswear, its outer shell has been doused, sprayed and treated to a punk attitude by a rough reworking of tie-dyeing look. T-shirts and jerseys featuring high-necklines are paired with a relaxed fit, giving the garments a subtle luxe appearance.

Contrast is something Rene plays with a lot in her artwork and this collection. A softness of spirit and a punk resilience are melded together to form pieces like the slouchy knitwear jumper. The soft textured long hair piece is treated to an industrial finish, with a large bold COLLUSION text graphic wrapped around its monochromatic frame.

Classics are respected, reworked and take form in the ‘go for broke’ dungarees that are a reference to a rousing James Baldwin speech that is a call for the protection of young minds. An orange hoody with raglan sleeves acts as a gallery wall for Rene’s work, her photograph entitled ‘I am my own’ bleeds onto the kangaroo pocket of its front.

[Bwalya Newton] Activism and existence play a huge part in your narrative origins but they also inform a lot of your art. In what ways have you worked on those thematic threads for this collaboration with COLLUSION and why?

[Rene Matić] When I was asked to produce some works for the collaboration I looked at what I was working on at the time and how/if they could translate into clothes. I used all the same techniques and references that I would do whilst painting.

Your approach to design appears to be inspired from your passion for punk, how have your parents and your upbringing influenced all of that?

My mum was the one who got me exited about dressing up and designers which is when I learnt about Westwood. This led me to a fascination with Punk. My Dad is a Rude boy so that's also where my big subcultural influence stems from. My Mum instilled in me an appreciation for beautiful things and the ability to get iconic looks on a budget. Charity shops and DIY have been a saving grace.

What elements do you think make up a great look or great style?

I think everyone looks sick in a pair of docs.

Why has it been so important to dedicate yourself to bursts of colour and bold prints in your work and for this collection?

Colour happened by accident. When I was younger I was painting in my room and I ran out of white paint and so I finished off a portrait with yellows and reds and blues and it worked. It broke the rules of painting that I had bestowed upon my 14 year old self haha. It was quite a pivotal moment actually.

Film plays an important part of your creative process what about it is so essential?

I enjoy the immediacy and intimacy of video works. A film can demand an audience and say so many things all at once which I struggle with when painting, or even writing. I like the urgency which I think lends itself to my practice.

What do you want for the future of design and art and how are you moving towards that in your own practise?

I want people/organisations to take more accountably and instead of making excuses for their wrong doings, try and better them. I want people from my community not only recognised and represented but compensated. We don't only want these things, we need them. In terms of my own practice, I will continue to push for change, to take up space where I deserve it and to give up my chair when my siblings need it.

What can we expect from your upcoming show?

Dancing & art & clothes. I have made work everyday since I can remember. Each one is a moment of becoming, an experience of the world, a book I have read, a song, a person, a burden, a navigation, a medication – a way of looking after oneself. I have selected pieces that I feel encompass these moments to hand alongside the collection as a backdrop for a lovely evening with friends and family.

What piece in the collection most resonates with you and why?

I think the puffa jacket is so sick, I can't wait for it to keep me serving cosy looks.

A playfulness and celebration of youth is captured in the collection’s bright palette, these colours are direct pulls from Rene’s life, work and inspirations.

'Baby, look after yourself please' is a note to self, a reference to and reminder of an Audre Lorde quote that reads: ‘Loving each other as refusing the world that judges some of us to be unlovable; loving each other as a way of surviving the world.’ ‘Baby Look After Yourself Please’ is the exclusive Rene Matić drop that comprises of 10 limited edition pieces. The seasonless collection is a thought-provoking insight into Rene’s interrogation of themes around belonging, and activism.

View Rene's drop

Bwalya Newton is a Zambian-born, London-based writer, DJ and the founder of women’s basketball team, Hackney Gazelles.

Shot by Chloe Sheppard. Styled by Rene.