THE CONVERSATION PIECE
A Profile of Artist ANNE KOCH
Style Watch with Eden Herbstman
To be successful at anything in this world you must have a true passion and love for what it is your are doing, and no one has more admiration for art, fashion, and the desire to create than Anne Koch. “I need to see my ideas materialize, I just want to make things,” says Anne, and because of this, her extensive experience in the fashion and art world speaks to her unique talent and vision as an art director, set designer, and production designer. She has worked for coveted publications such as Vogue Italia, V, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, and Purple Magazine, (just to name a few). Not only does she lend her artistry to magazines and designers, she also creates her own line of jewelry and bedding. In addition to this success in the fashion world, Anne is an artist through and through, constructing public installations and live performances. Anne is more than just a performance artist, but rather a genuine natural performer.
She describes her life as a performance, most visually evident by her individual one-of-a-kind style. She is the girl at the party who ignores the dress code, and will show up radiating an energy rather than sporting a trend; she’s known to show up in a conversational headpiece. Her style goes beyond making fashion statements, but rather raising awareness and making environmental statements. For example, her sister, Elisabeth Koch, who is a milliner, designed a dolphin headpiece for Anne to wear to a Japanese benefit to raise awareness of the horrible dolphin killings, brought to light by the documentary The Cove. The ocean in general is a huge passion of Anne’s, which she manifests through her jewelry line which include shrimp pins, calamari rings (cleverly called “calamarings”), and sterling silver oyster vessels and lobster claws.
Her inspirations are creatively and physically boundless. Anne has practically traveled all over the world, and seeing how other cultures live and interact fuels her artistic drive. Her (eat ) series, which is essentially a two minute video of Anne consuming a particular food or beverage, which can be anything from potato chips to caviar, are staged in environments all around the world. Through this process she utilizes food as a universal language in different countries, and creates still moving pictures in a carefully thought out backdrop. One of her most striking videos is of her in Beijing eating a mandarin positioned under the largest LCD screen.
Anne’s artistic soul radiates through your work, performance, collections, and unique style. She embodies the essence of what it is to be an artist, and full disclosure, will never take her hat off.
Eden Herbstman: Originally, you were a set designer for films, how did you then transition into the fashion industry?
Anne Koch: I was working in London for a film production company. It was super boring, I was getting lunches and all of that, but I really loved reading the scripts. An opportunity came to me to work on a film by Mike Figgis. I was just a runner on the film, but it was great being in production and seeing things happen right in front of you, and I fell in love with the art department there. I never realized how much that affected everything. I was fascinated by the whole process: how temporary a set is, and how fast we have to get it together and make it look so real. When the film wrapped I went up to Michael Howells, and said I would love to be your apprentice for a project. He said there was a TV show coming up, and that I could help out for a couple of weeks, and I ended up being with him for 3-4 years learning everything from him. He is a huge mentor to me, and we are actually both represented by the same agency, CLM. I then moved to New York and started out with some student films, and I didn’t love it very much. I really knew very quickly that I wanted to be in fashion. The turnover is quicker, and I like to work on a few projects at once. You can think of 1920s one day, then Victorian, then future, then underwater all in the same week. I like that very much.
EH : Your sense of style is so original and unique, what inspires your individual fashion sense?
AK: My style is like tapping into a universal energy, and it changes day to day, it also depends how I’m feeling. When I’m going to places I look at the invitation, and I think what does this mean to me. My life is like a performance, so once I dress for the day, or event, or a performance, the outfit is complete, and so is the performance.
EH: Is your (eat) series a way of documenting your travels around the world?
AK: I have always loved to travel, and I love food. Ever since I was young I have had a fascination with food. I love this planet and I want to always keep exploring. My first (eat) film was in Rajasthan, India. I was eating potato chips and I just loved the background so much, and I wanted to take a small snapshot, but I wanted it to be moving. I wanted it to be like in the Harry Potter books where the images in the newspaper are moving. But I don’t always make a film wherever I go, it has to feel right.
EH: Are certain pieces of your jewelry line, for example the lobster claw and oyster vessel, intentionally in conversation with your (eat) series?
AK: I suppose it wasn’t meant to be that way, but it has evolved into that. My shrimp pin I wanted it to be super realistic, I love shrimp and underwater creatures, and I love eating seafood because it’s like a full cycle. I have a factory in California that makes the jewelry. The oyster is a real oyster that I cast in sterling silver. I’ll go around the world and keep things that are momentous for myself, and connotes a memory that I really want to keep alive. For my “calamaring,” I went to Chinatown and took the squid, and I learned so much about them. Their heads are really long and hollow, so this piece is actually from the head. So when you get calamari at a restaurant, it is cut up squid head. I boiled them, froze them, and then sent them to my factory to mold them. So I took the mold of vinyl plastic and made it into sterling silver as well as gold.
EH: Fashion is essentially a form of art, when and how do you keep this concept in mind?
AK: My (eat) series is centered around food, and I work in fashion, so it’s this crazy food-fashion mix. I had a film at Art Basel called ‘eat (lobster)’. That’s all about excess, and we are eating metaphorically all the time, especially in fashion, and the waste that goes through. It is a comment on everything. I’m just a part of the process and trying to make people aware.
EH: You describe your design aesthetic as dark and playful, but your style is so bright and quirky. Can you explain the difference?
AK: I like really quirky things, and I’m also born on Halloween. I love the edge of things. What I mean by dark is the strangeness of something. I really like when there is a secret, and something has other sides and dimensions, which for me is the darkness. Dark for me is the Other.
EH: What are some of your upcoming projects?
I’m shooting for Vogue and L’Oreal, and I will be hosting a performance dinner at the ALLEGRA LaVIOLA gallery this summer, I’m acting in my brother, Bastiaan Koch’s film, and I’m already taking meetings for Spring 2013 Fashion Week.
Anne Koch has worked as an art director, set designer, production designer, as well as designer her own jewelry line. She has a luxury silk bedding line with Kumi Kookoon sold at ABC Carpet & Home. She is also a performance artist, and stages her (eat) series in various settings around the world. Her “(eat) lobster 2011” at Art Basel Miami in December of 2011. was shown at the Tate Modern in London, England at it’s tenth birthday. Anne was born in Atlanta, Georgia, but grew up studying and traveling abroad.
Anne Koch interviewed by Eden Herbstman
Written by Eden Herbstman
Photography by Hadar Pitchon
Design by Jillian Mercado
Anne Koch, Photography by Hadar Pinchon