I’m feeling very slinky today because today’s guest star has flown in from the world of fashion and loveliness. Designer of all The Gentle People outfits and of many human world designs, let’s meet the star of today’s interview. Roger Craig Searle known better in Gentleworld as Roja Von Galaxy.
Hello Roger and welcome to my beautifully designed lounge of Nauganess.
RCS: Thank you very much for asking me along. You are looking very dapper today.
Nauga: Why thank you! Us Naugae care about our appearance and so I have dressed for the occasion in my best Pucci outfit!
So let’s chat. You’ve designed lots of outfits for The Gentle People alongside your couture work in the rest of the human world. Can you tell me about the work that you do as a fashion designer?
RCS: I am a pattern maker and designer of clothing rather than fashion which means it is a lot more individual and personal to people.
I need to know about the person and what they are going to use the costume for. So, the more interesting the person the more interesting the costume.
Nauga: Of course, and you’ve designed for me on many occasions
RCS: I have, yes I have. I made you a little purple outfit. That is one of my favourites.
Nauga: Ah yes, indeed, the one described in the press as a giant crisp packet I believe…
RCS: Err yes. But I am more than happy with your normal natural hyde…
Nauga: As am I. So, tell me, how did you get into the world of clothing design?
RCS: It all started when young and I wanted to be punk rocker – couldn’t afford nice clothes so made them myself – well at least I tried to. And it went from there. I tried to make my own bondage trousers with zips up the back. I did that to my school uniform trousers and nearly got expelled.
Nauga: I can imagine! How did you move on from there?
RCS: I discovered I didn’t know how to make things properly. Things would fall to pieces. So, I decided to go to college and learn to do it properly
I went straight from college to Donald Campbell. I spent eight years learning, learning, learning. Making stuff for the Queen’s friends (Elizabeth the Queen of England that is). It was semi-couture, very old school and very high end. England doesn’t really have couture but it’s the closest thing to it. And it was a good grounding for learning techniques and fabrics.
I’ve worked for Vivienne Westwood and Katharine Hammnet and more recently for Camilla Staerk and Future Classics. All of whom really inspired me. I know a lot of people think ‘oh, they’re just clothes’ but they are among other things – warmth, coolness, sex and protection. They say so much about you whether you like it or not. They can be art for showoffs or somewhere to hide and all of this comes from designers and makers straight to you through shops. The act of shopping is you improving yourself like an iPod update or describing yourself to the world like a Twitter post.
Nauga: And I understand more recently you have got into shoes. Making shoes in addition to wearing them (smiles).
RCS: Yes, I worked for Camilla Staerk as a shoe designer. It was very good – very enjoyable. Shoes are one thing that I cannot physically make myself. Well, I can now but it’s a long and complicated job and you need loads of equipment. So designing them was great – it completed the skillset.
Nauga: Not being a shoe-wearer, what is important to think about when designing a shoe?
RCS: Shoes have to fit comfortably but be sexy – you can achieve both. Again it comes down to what they are needed for and who will be wearing them. Women are, quite rightly, very particular about their shoes.
Nauga: Quite a feat… So, tell me, how did you come across The Gentle People
RCS: The Gentle People were strong figures on the London cocktail scene.
Nauga: Strong cocktails did you say? (Laughs)
RCS: (Laughs) I had to speak to them. And it naturally went on from there. They asked me to make some clothes for them, for the party scene. Then they started making music and asked me to make the costumes for the shows.
Nauga: You made countless outfits for them as I recall. What kind of influences came into the designs for The Gentle People?
RCS: Well, lots of things. There were a lot of 60s and 70s designers that I was very inspired by. For instance Rudi Gernriech and, of course, Pierre Cardin. I also always tried to keep in mind that The Gentle People had separate characters. The sexy socialite, the super spy, the action hero and the kooky professor. Not something that I was told but just an affectation to make designing easier. That way I could bring in various influences from films like Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Super Vixens and Danger Diabolik for example.
Nauga: Oh I could see myself in a Pierre Cardin outfit – it would look fantastic on a Nauga. (Laughs)
RCS: Hmm yes, and there were other influences. For example the green and silver costumes used for the compilation album cover and shows was inspired by a lava lamp. And of course bubbles.
Nauga: Ah hence the transparent plastic jackets.
RCS: Yes, The Gentle People and my outfits are very influenced by space and the future. What will be listening to? What will be wearing and more importantly what cocktails will we be drinking?
RCS: I think ether and lychee! (laughs)
Nauga: What is your favourite Gentle People outfit designed by your good self?
RCS: The navy and turquoise outfits for the Tottenham Court Road fountain party perhaps. No, actually, the white plastic outfits for Shopping World video and the cover of Simply Faboo. They remind me of Gentle Stormtroopers.
Nauga: Are they working for the rebel alliance?
RCS: They are Gentle Stormtroopers on the side of good and lovely things. Groovy things.
Nauga: Fighting for the groove.
RCS: Let’s face it, the universe needs a good groove right now.
Nauga: Yes… And in terms of your other work, what are you up to now?
RCS: I’m currently in Australia helping Sass and Bide make Australia beautiful.
Nauga: And are you working on your own designs too?
RCS: Well, I am currently working on Mardi Gras which is top secret – in March – we will be marching in March. I do have plans for my own menswear line too. Very exciting. I have mostly done womenswear but have done menswear in the past at Camilla Staerk and Vivienne Westwood and Australian men need it! I will make them look even more gorgeous!
Nauga: So, do you have a message for the Gentle friends, fans and family?
RCS: That is quite a big question. Every time you choose a pair of socks or part your hair you are making an artistic and creative decision which changes your personality and the way people view you so (sotto voice) you have to be very careful.
I think my message is try to be gorgeous to everybody, everyday.
Nauga: I do that every day (smiles). And finally, I need to know the answer to the most critical question of all: Hawaiian or Space?
RCS: SPACE! I have recently been reading lots of books about the cosmos and universe; how it was made and what it is made of and where we are within that. It’s very important. Hawaii is also important but space is our past, our now and our future. We are all made of stardust.
Nauga: Fabulous! We are indeed. And all that remains for me to say is thank you very much for joining me.
I think it’s time for a cocktail!
RCS: Woohoo!!!! Ether and lychees for me.