Style

Go Outside

An interview with Scott Sternberg and a selection of photos from his new Polaroid-only lookbook, featuring Michelle Williams BEING AMAZING.

Dreamy but practical, cute but comfy, Scott Sternberg’s clothes, designed under the label Band of Outsiders, are made for explorers. His Boy. line especially speaks to those of us who want to go on adventures that involve flowy dresses and slumber party toys, but with the quiet sophistication of Michelle Williams, or of Ritz crackers when you put stuff on them. Scott’s lookbook for Boy.’s spring 2012 collection perfectly captures such moments of discovery through Polaroids of Michelle exploring on her own, and today we bring you a selection of those photos, including outtakes exclusive to Rookie, and an interview with Scott himself! So please, spruce up a Ritz cracker and enjoy.

TAVI: You designed only for men for three years before you did your first collection for women in 2007. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve found with designing for women?

SCOTT STERNBERG: The biggest challenge is allowing myself to be free of the type of constraints that are inherent with menswear, which are at once a bummer and a blessing, but to create a product that is still unmistakably Band, and directly tied to what I had been doing in men’s. There’s so little to work with in terms of shape and types of garments when designing men’s clothes, so the creativity goes into these micro places like fabric and buttons and stitching, plus the construction and quality.

My [impulse] when I starting designing women’s was to create artificial constraints. I started with a couple of conceptual frameworks. Boy. takes its cues from menswear and the spirit of a girl who really knows how to wear men’s clothes with ease. It’s preppy, but, like our men’s stuff, tries to bring a sense of humor and irreverence and joy to it. Conversely, girl. is about draping, flou, and the simple notion of “pretty.” It’s more romantic than preppy, and the system of dressing is centered on a dress. Boy. usually sells next to fancier designer brands; girl. is geared toward more of a “contemporary” customer and price point. Boy. is stripey; girl. is flowery. Boy. is snips and snails and puppy-dog tails; girl. is sugar and spice and everything nice. Et cetera…

This helps me put everything in context, and gives me a platform to really create in a free way, from choosing inspiration to draping a new shape of a dress, knowing that these will always be tethered to one of those two concepts.

And the biggest advantage?

I had an identity as a designer before starting to design women’s clothes, an aesthetic code and a brand identity. It was and is so important to be part of the fashion dialogue without being derivative of what’s already out there, to create something distinct and recognizable, so it was really helpful to be able to reference myself, my own menswear design, instead of comparing myself with a Parisian house that I admired or something like that. That’s how Boy. started, and it remains an important part of how we develop the collection.

Any specific movies, music, etc., you had in mind as inspiration for these photos or the collection?

The collection was inspired by Picnic at Hanging Rock, the super creepy Peter Weir film about four schoolgirls who go missing at the site of an ancient rock in the Australian countryside. It’s such a strange, compelling, and beautiful film. I was not, however, inspired by the Zamfir pan-flute infomercial music running throughout the trailer and parts of the film. Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in C, which is also in the movie, was playing on a loop in the studio for quite some time. For the show, we played Lou Reed’s “Street Hassle,” which is one of my all-time favorites, and was such a good reflection of the collection: the idea of balancing something very classic with something a bit tough and modern and street. And funny.

What’s your favorite Hitchcock movie?

Visually, probably The Birds. But I really love the story of, and acting in, Rebecca.

Your favorite Michelle Williams movie?

Tossup between Brokeback Mountain and Dick, depending on my mood. Brokeback is a tough re-watch but a perfect, heartbreaking film; Dick is an arguably ridiculous and horrible movie, but it could be running on a loop in my house for a week and I’d be perfectly entertained.

How would you soundtrack these photos if they were a movie?

The Things We Did and Didn’t Do,” by the Magnetic Fields. It’s from 69 Love Songs, the three-disc concept album that the Magnetic Fields put out in 1999 of love songs that take on about every genre of music. It’s one of my favorite records of all time. This song in particular is so dreamy and sad—it’s about regret, and there’s really only about three lines in the song that are repeated, layered over each other, which is exactly how one might obsess about a relationship in their head after a breakup. I’m not sure it totally fits, but man, I’d like to hear that song in a movie. It’s just begging for a movie breakup montage to run behind it.

Why did you use Polaroids for this lookbook instead of digital, or film you’d have to get developed?

Polaroids are magic. They’re super-perfect technology that never should have gone away. In these shoots, the Polaroids allow us to work very fast and to immediately gain the trust of the person we’re shooting—we play with the physical images on the shoot together, as they develop, so they can see how the narrative will develop (and nix any shots they hate for any reason).
Why the running slumber-party magic props?

The Magic Eight Ball, Ouija board…slumber party! [I didn’t have that] in mind as a running theme, but now that you bring it up, it makes sense in terms of most of our shoots. I love old games as much as old technology—there’s something about killing time and entertaining oneself that way versus punching something up on an iPhone that’s rather refreshing to me.

What’s the best Ouija conversation you’ve ever had?

I can’t remember exactly how it went down, but Sgt. Pepper’s was playing on slo-mo on the record player, and a conspiracy-theorist college friend was ranting about how Paul was dead, and I could hear it if I just listened close enough.

Where do you find all the old cameras and computers and whatnots you collect?

Etsy, eBay, and St. Vincent’s thrift shop in Dayton, Ohio, where I grew up.

Which is your favorite of all your troll dolls? My sister collects them too!

I couldn’t pick a favorite. They’re a unit, my trolls. All for one, one for all. They stand in a trust circle and whisper to each other very quietly. I can ALMOST hear them. I bet your sister could too.

What were your favorite places to explore when you were growing up?

Other people’s houses. I was such a snoop. Medicine cabinets, sock drawers, kitchen cupboards. A really horrible habit I luckily grew out of by the time it mattered. ♦

26 Comments

  • KinuKinu March 20th, 2012 3:09 PM

    this is really cool :) My parents think Paul died too.I wonder…… The photos were so pretty and I wish I had a Polaroid camera.My dad makes my photos from a digital camera into a Polaroid with photoshop,and that’s cool but Polaroids have this THING.Anyways,i ♥♥♥♥ this :)

  • Susann March 20th, 2012 3:10 PM

    Great interview and thanks for sharing the polaroid lookbook! Such amazing photos!

    http://fashioninpepperland.blogspot.com

  • Laia March 20th, 2012 3:15 PM

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!

    such a rad interview and the polaroids are SO BEST.

    i need more band of outsiders in my life.

  • Mila March 20th, 2012 3:22 PM

    Michelle is so cute ! and the photos are stunning. great work, scott! <3

  • MissKnowItAll March 20th, 2012 3:59 PM

    I nearly died of the awesomeness.
    This guy is too cool for words.

  • mamacass March 20th, 2012 4:00 PM

    I absolutely adore this campaign. And Michelle Williams.

    http://www.cassandrahsieh.com/

  • starcollector March 20th, 2012 4:12 PM

    Wow this is so adorable. I really wish Polaroid film wasn’t so expensive I would take all my pictures with them. I love being able to watch it develop and being able to write on the white parts :)

    http://china-lily.blogspot.com/

  • mayaautumn March 20th, 2012 4:21 PM

    yehhh, like everyone else is saying………. those polaroids are ~woooaahh!!~ little beauties on a summer’s morning;D

    http://cottonmixblog.blogspot.com

  • tove March 20th, 2012 4:24 PM

    michelle, my love!

  • Claudia March 20th, 2012 5:06 PM

    Interesting interview! I liked his comments when he said that polaroids are magic. they really are! i own a polaroid 600 and i love it. the polaroids in the interview were really cute :)

  • Sonja March 20th, 2012 5:07 PM

    Unbelievable. Amazing. Freak out. All. The garments. the words. MICHELLE WILLIAMS. Her perfect vidal sassoon rosemary farrow hair. ouija board. hitchcock. shovel. peacock. the light. beyond. PS need to watch DICK

    • Anaheed March 22nd, 2012 12:32 AM

      DICK is hilarious. You will love.

  • Lille March 20th, 2012 5:27 PM

    This is so incredibly beautiful and inspiring.
    I think I might faint…

  • AnguaMarten March 20th, 2012 5:46 PM

    i love the magnetic fields! i love how they can do kinda-country, kinda-rock, kinda-indie, and just good ol’ fashioned love songs. and stephin merritt’s voice is incredible. plus, neil gaiman likes them, so that’s an automatic win.

    seriously, they have the only love songs i can stand listening too.

  • sttefaaa March 20th, 2012 6:23 PM

    Lovely interview!

    http://stefanystrange.blogspot.com/

  • 3LL3NH March 20th, 2012 6:35 PM

    love, love, love!! it’s so surreal and beautiful. reading about band of outsiders and listening to band of horses, amazing….

  • kittenmix March 20th, 2012 7:04 PM

    Soooo, where can I buy?

  • kiyarose March 20th, 2012 11:03 PM

    This is so perfect for today!

  • TessAnnesley March 21st, 2012 12:49 AM

    MICHELLE WILLIAMS AND POLAROIDS AND HITCHCOCK AND OLD LIBRARIES AND GRAVEYARDS AND PEACOCKS AND PICNICS AND BAND OF OUTSIDERS AND AAAAHHHHHH TOO GOOD

  • erin March 21st, 2012 10:10 AM

    I love these! first, I love the metal detector pictures, and I now want a big flowy skirt and a metal detector. Then I love Michelle Williams. She is adorable and my heart aches for her haircut. And finally, I absolutely heart the polaroids, and I want a polaroid camera so much now!
    http://keepingupwithunstuck.blogspot.com/

  • joely March 21st, 2012 11:28 AM

    I grew up in Dayton too. That thrift store is amazing. <3

  • winkmonster March 21st, 2012 6:50 PM

    ahhhhh! i love michelle!!!

  • CamilleKasia March 22nd, 2012 9:07 AM

    Hey everybody! it’s my first comment. I’m a little french girl (so excuse my english….) and i love Rookiemag! I wish all french girl read you! Here, teen don’t know twin peaks or Wes Anderson but i’m crazy about!!! I’m 19 and I would like to be a teen forever. You really inspire me…
    xxxxx

  • clady March 24th, 2012 12:58 AM

    nice pics, tavi. So inspiring me
    http://theculunlady.blogspot.com/

  • sophieee March 25th, 2012 5:29 PM

    I adore these photos- my friend has a poleroid camera…they have to be one of the coolest things ever created…its a shame they have been so neglected lately! •

  • Joyce March 30th, 2012 11:57 PM

    i was just bouncing-off-the-walls happy when i saw this. i mean, i love love love Scott Sternberg and Band of Outsiders. (I have this Boy. hooded trench coat and it’s absolutely one of my favorite things ever) Then i read this interview and i am just blown away by the gloriousness of Scott and MICHELLE WILLIAMS and Boy. and those awesome Polaroid shots.

    thanks for this awesome interview, Rookie.