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Made to measure: Baroque ’n’ Roll

It’s punk with a personal touch from trash jeweler Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide. Alison Culliford explores his attic.

A model wearing outlandish jewelry at a fashion show in Paris.

«L’horreur, l’horreur, les gens vraiment sortent leur merde!» Wide-eyed behind his designer glasses, the artist known as Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide surveys his domestic universe of dismembered dolls’ limbs, skateboard wheels, bones, plastic knick-knacks and broken jewelry, all stacked up in plastic boxes like an inventory of modem society’s detritus.

A glaneur who gathers his raw materials from pavement cast-offs and jumble sales, this is one young designer who pushes the boundaries, assembling flamboyant jewelry that is at once joyously kitsch and disturbing. Our cover shot shows facial art he made for the catwalk show of fashion duo Édith & Raphaël (01.48.58.78.35), whom he met through the pages of a magazine. “They were featured opposite me and I realized we had a common vision. They gave me carte blanche, which allowed me to really go all out. It pushed me further than I would have gone alone!

A model wearing a rhinestone sunglasses and an Eiffel Tower on her head in a fashion show in Paris.

You wouldn’t know it to look at the doll-and-fake-rock assemblages, but their creator is pretty dismissive of the fashion world, with the exception of Christian Lacroix, who wrote him a personal letter of encouragement. He trained in couture but left it to work at the Opéra (much more fun) making costumes. The jewelry started as an expression of his personality until, on trying to give away some old things he didn’t wear any more, he realized he had grown attached to them and that maybe they had a value. Everything has a history. I love things that have been used. Dolls’ limbs, broken toys, they have an extraordinarily symbolism—for me they speak of human fragility, these things have been abandoned, tortured. They are evocative!

Punk Warhol, Duchamp are all influences. “I was lucky to spend a lot of time in England as an adolescent. At the age of 13 I discovered punk, jazz, rock, reggae and Marilyn Monroe. I think I must be the spiritual son of Nina Hagen and David Bowie”, he muses. Like Bowie, Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide thrives on reinvention. While carrying out his one-off jewelry commissions, he is currently pursuing an art project to do with the Nazis “labeling of nonconformists, and some sculpture on the theme of myopia, physical and metaphorical. The jewelry, he says, comes together very quickly, especially if he already knows the person it is commissioned for. Clients can bring their own junk to be recycled into one of his creations. He also does pieces for regular punk/metal/piercing exhibitions at rock bar Cantada (www.cantada.fr).

Keeping anarchy at bay among the ever-growing pickings must be a full time task. “There’s more in the cellar,” he says. “There’s stuff down there that isn’t ready to come out. Like a turn-of-the-20th century corset I found at Clignancourt with holes to breathe and a strange little trap door in the back!” The more macabre the better, it seems, for this punk alchemist who turns trash to gold and back again in the course of an afternoon.

Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide (06.60.37.59.53).

Published on page 13 of the
Time Out Paris Free Guide,
Summer 2004
Photographs: David Henry
Article: Alison Culliford
Jewelry: Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide
Fashions: Édith & Raphaël
Graphic Design: Richard Joy

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