Written by Lucy May
There are few more inspiring and more dapperly dressed individuals than Mr. Lou Graves. I can say this confidently (though perhaps slightly biasedly) because I am lucky enough to call this kind and wonderful person a friend. We sat down, two slightly (or very) overdressed individuals with nowhere to actually go, to have a quick chat via facetime, Lou smiling that devilish smile of his as he poured himself another cup of tea from his slightly ridiculous but incredibly useful teapot-shaped thermos.
‘This is probably my favourite lockdown purchase, quite honestly,’ he told me, sipping his tea tentatively, ‘like…this is still a hot cup of tea, even though I made this when I got up this morning. It’ll still be hot at nine o’clock tonight! Plus, it looks like a teapot! Must-have life-styler practical hack! Other than that, most of my purchases have been things I can wear. I got myself this pair of Iris Corolla shoes that I fully intended to wear to events once all this covid-19 stuff was over…but since it’s not over yet, I’ve taken to wearing them as a very fancy pair of house slippers!’
For Lou, though, a key rule of thumb when buying is always with creative alteration in mind.
‘Sustainability has kind of always been actively a part of what I wear. I almost always purchase second hand, and a lot of times I buy things because I want to upcycle them or do some sort of DIY work to alter them. It’s just always something I’ve done, and I feel like it’s a really important part of alternative fashion choices a lot of people have forgotten. I’ve seen it maybe in the last six years or so that people aren’t doing the ‘make do’ thing, anymore. Things are just readily available: full outfits ready to be purchased and worn. That’s just crazy to me.’
We’ve discussed this in previous blog posts here at R.R. Memorandum: lifestyle creation and building around an idea and aesthetic, rather than direct buying of that lifestyle and all its elements. Lou Graves really emulates the attitudes of old-school revivalists. A key part of that, according to Lou, is doing things not for the appearance of doing them, but rather because they bring you joy.
‘I don’t tend to acquire things - especially the clothes that I wear – that don’t make me happy. I don’t really wear things for other people, or to satisfy any particular part of my identity. Rather, I literally just do it because it makes me happy.’
It was at that point I realised I was talking to a male version of Momoko from Kamikaze Girls! When asked to elaborate on this further (because I just knew he would have more to say on this matter), Lou obliged.
‘If you’re not doing things because they make you happy, you’re definitely doing them for the wrong reasons. People are so hardwired now to being sold an identity by capitalism. Rather than actually interacting with the clothes in a way that is creative, mindful of what you personally like, and making them what you want them to be or styling them in your own creative way or whatever, it feels like corporations are assigning young people a diluted version of an identity for high prices that they can just put on and take off.Don’t get me wrong, I love it when other people want to wear the same or similar fashions to me: I just find it sad that younger people are being taught they have to buy everything there and then, rather than getting to know themselves what it is that makes them happy – building a wardrobe from that notion, whether through purchase or creativeness. In the past, alternative fashion was a rebellion against identities that they could sell to you. There were no makeup campaigns showing you how to do goth make up, or punk looks. No hairdressers were trained to give these alternative haircuts, no clothes existed that were the archetypal garment for the styles unless you made them yourself or altered clothes to be that. People just did the things themselves to achieve the look. It was more fulfilling, more of a creative spirit and lifestyle. I feel like that’s what it is, anyway…’
Lou, as well as his DIY projects, has also been rather busy with other creative outlets. As well as making jewellery and painting for his own shop on Etsy (which has, in the Covidless world of the past, been a more mobile affair at EGL fashion events), his recent collaboration with Patisserie Pink and indeed, the pin he created with R.R. Memorandum (which is still available, along with some newly restocked Gravelvet necklaces) have certainly kept him on his rather dandily-clad toes!
‘Usually the art is something that I’m just always doing. I am always making jewellery, painting or doing DIY. I have to sort of rotate these three things, as I kind of get bored if I don’t…borderline frustrated with the piece of work I’m doing then. I’m making a lot of jewellery at the moment, but no doubt I’ll be doing something else pretty soon. The collaboration with Patisserie Pink was a product of a summer spent enjoying painting. Like I’d already done the painting, and they put them on the boots. All these little projects really keep me busy, and keep me (reasonably) sane!’
Of course, another thing keeping Lou sane during this time has been his trusty sidekick, Silver the greyhound. We love doggos here at R.R. Memorandum (especially the lovely Rolo, who is featured in the R.R. Memorandum logo and some of our designs), so naturally, we spent the majority of the rest of our facetime session discussing Silver at length (pardon the pun).
‘She’s really, really long. Less so since she had to have her tail taken off, but she still takes up a good amount of space. She’s so good…she’s pretty much been the constant in my life. Like I’ve had her for 10 years now, which is the entirety of my adult life. Life has changed so much over the years, and friendships and relationships have come and gone, but Silver has remained the consistent companion. She’s part of the deal – if you want me in your life, you’re getting Silver, too!’
From words of wisdom to soft doggo-loving chitchat, it is safe to say that Lou Graves, for all his extravagance and outward affectations, is a true gentleman. If you haven’t already, you can still purchase the R.R. Memorandum/Gravelvet pin collaboration, and cross pendants, in the shop! Check out Lou’s artwork at Gravelvet Art on Instagram, and his surreal and whimsical content on youtube and tiktok!