Whether they’re taking the reins at DKNY or carving a new path in the luxury streetwear market, Public School founders Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osbourne have never been ones to play by the fashion rulebook. So, when it came to the label’s show during the inaugural New York Fashion Week: Men’s, the designers shunned the traditional presentation format in favor of creating arguably the coolest faux prison lineup ever. They enlisted stylish dudes like Nick Wooster and Waris Ahluwalia to show off their latest collection of sleek separates, including deliberately wrinkly anoraks, multi-layered plaid shirts and perfectly baggy trousers.
Another familiar “inmate” in the lineup of well-dressed suspects was musician George Lewis Jr., who performs under the moniker Twin Shadow. A longtime friend and collaborator of the Public School brand, Lewis has scored all of the label’s fashion shows since its inception (including this season), and he performed a 10-minute composition live at its fall 2015 ready-to-wear show. While this gig is obviously different than the kinds of shows that he’s used to — like rocking out in front of thousands at Coachella, for instance — Lewis told Fashionista that working with Public School is, not surprisingly, a total dream job.
On the final day of NYFW:M, we chatted with the LA-based musician about style lessons he’s learned, what it’s like being a designer muse and whether he foresees more modeling in his future.
You modeled in the Public School show earlier this week. How did it go?
It was really fun. I’m super excited that the guys did the presentation in the way that they did. I think it was a very remarkable presentation for the week, and obviously very different from what everyone else was doing.
What was going through your head as your were standing there in the lineup?
It was actually pretty easy, because the guys just asked us to have personality. We were supposed to play a character in that world, in that idea of the prison lineup. I mean, the whole idea behind a lineup is almost everyone there is wrongfully accused — there’s only one guilty person. I’m pretty glad I didn’t have to just stand there, though. I went to a few presentations where the models were just standing there, and that whole human gallery thing can be a little awkward.
Was this your first time modeling?
When I was a kid, I modeled sunglasses for Wal-Mart. [Laughs] That was it. I think there was maybe a mall runway show or something when I was young, but this was my first real modeling job.
How did you originally link up with the Public School guys?
They actually reached out to me. They were inspired by my music, and one day I went up to meet them and they showed me around their showroom. We became friends at that point and decided to collaborate. They had a video they wanted me to star in — so I guess that was my official modeling debut for them. I also made the music for that video, which was the longest original piece of music I had done for something like that. The guys started doing better and putting on more shows, and they asked me to do music for the runway. I’ve done every single one of their runway scores since.
How does making music for a brand differ from doing your own thing as Twin Shadow?
When you’re working with a brand, you’re interpreting its vision, which is very different from my own vision, obviously. What’s great about Public School is they give me a lot of freedom to do what I want. Sometimes they’ll show me a lookbook and talk about the themes that they’re thinking about, and I’ll run with it. Other times, they’ll want something more specific: like this time, they had a real vibe they were going for. When I write music for myself, the process is so much different because I have to sit around and wait for inspiration. It’s a harder process because there’s not that initial spark that’s given to you. You have to find the spark yourself.
Along with Public School, what have been some of your other favorite shows this week?
I really like it when designers take a step in a different, unexpected direction. For example, the N. Hoolywood show was really impressive. The Alexandre Plokhov show was also a really fun, intense show. I kind of see Public School as outsiders and very original on one end of the spectrum, and Plokhov is on the other end. He’s dark and gothy and super cool.
How has your onstage style as Twin Shadow evolved since you started the project?
It changes every year, really. The only thing I’m stuck to is my leather jacket, and everything else in my closet sort of evolves around that. I’m informed mostly by being involved in Public School and being exposed to fashion more than I normally would be. Whereas I used to look at the content in magazines for inspiration, now I mostly am drawn to the advertisements — your perspective shifts.
Would you do more fashion collaborations in the future?
Twin Shadow is my focus and my baby, and I will always love making music for myself. But I’m definitely open to scoring more things. I actually just scored a new film for Dazed and GMC. I’m also working on scoring some music for an eyewear company. I do it when I have the time and I do it when it’s a brand I believe in. I think a lot of musicians find themselves with a lot of free time after they get off from touring, and it’s a great outlet.