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An Interview with Alban Adam

Updated: Jul 18, 2019

Creative consultant and filmmaker Alban Adam's tender curiosity for his subjects is what drives his work. He keeps a low profile, preferring to stay in the background (or "the shadows" as he calls it), but always lends a personal quality to projects he's involved in, even if he isn't in the spotlight. I am most in awe of this, his ability to be so effortlessly self expressive while still allowing his work to speak for itself.

Best known for his exploration of goth, Alban is drawn to the subculture not because of its distinctiveness but rather because of its inclusivity. A goth himself, he is grateful to the community for giving him a playground, of sorts, to explore his identity; however, he slightly resents the modern resurgence of goth in mainstream culture, which has resulted in the concept of an ever-changing personal style, one that's not tied to cultural identity or self expression. He's more confused by this phenomenon than he is critical of it; the idea of fashion separated from personal beliefs is entirely foreign to him.

His answers to my questions felt a bit like graffiti -- erratic and declarative and raw - serving as a perfect encapsulation of all the qualities I value his work for.

What work are you most proud of?

The work I am most proud of is the only work I signed. I'm usually more a man in the shadows, but I did this short film with my friend Jordan Hemingway called "Anatomy of Goth" that you can see on Nowness.

Who are your inspirations?

There are quite a lot and they are very eclectic, but in general I'm inspired by music mostly, some goth stuff like Sisters of Mercy or Soper Aeternus & the Ensemble of Shadows and artists like Kenneth Anger or Otto Dix. These inspirations don't really translate to my work as a creative consultant, but there is always a hint of it somewhere if you look closely.

What draws you to the goth subculture?

I think, when I was a kid, it was the only subculture where everyone could exist. I didn't really know who I was or what I was and the goth [community] was the place where I could experiment and be many characters at the same time.

Who are your favorite designers?

There are some that I really admire like Miuccia Prada because her work is brainy but pop which I find is the ultimate [difficulty]. And then there are people I've been lucky enough to work with, like Demna Gvasalia at Balenciaga who really changed things.

If you were to create a 3 song playlist to your life, what songs would you include and why?

3 songs is hard for 38 years eh eh eh but ok! I think one would be Scott Walker's "Take It Easy on Yourself" because it's something I do need to remind myself of often, and then there is Sisters of Mercy's "More" because I do want more always, and the last one should be Dead Can Dance's "How Fortunate The Man With None" because I come from nothing and sometimes it's better that way.

What sparked your interest in fashion?

Music and subculture, really. For me, it's always been about culture, and subculture, and what you stand for. Seeing kids with black metal T-shirts that only listen to Britney Spears really breaks my heart. Fashion has always been an extension of cultural and artistic movements, and for me, it is all about music subcultures. It's what separates it from style which is good for the bourgeoisie. Artists that change their style every second and wear JLo pants and Joy Division like you eat a curry burrito-- it just doesn't make sense!

What's your earliest memory?

It's probably my mom and dad being some crazy hippies. They had a yellow Lada with a unicorn painting on the front. This always made me think, "Oh dear, I love them!"

What's a risk you're glad you took?

I've jumped into something without fully knowing what it was many times. Taking the communications director role at Mugler was a huge jump for me, and it probably changes the rest of my life.

Images used in collage via @alban_adam


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