Wednesday, 13 July 2016

NSFW: My interview with Exterface about their new online boutique EXSL


For those of you who have been living under a rock for, like, the last month or so, French duo Exterface and South African designer Stiaan Louw have been making a lot of noise on the internet with their sexy new project EXSL. I caught up with the boys last week to ask them all about the project, their plans for it going forward, and if we might see The Stillest Hour cast make a cameo...

What is EXSL?
EXSL is an acronym meaning Exterface x Stiaan Louw. You can also hear 'exhale'. It's the outcome of 5 years of collaboration between us. It felt relevant and natural to officially join and create a brand together. Especially considering the overwhelming positive response we were getting for each of past collaborations. We knew there was a great potential there. And it is only the beginning!


How did this collaboration with Stiaan Louw come about?
Originally, Stiaan came to us something like 5 years ago offering to create custom made designs for our shoots. We had doubts at first because 5 years ago we were in a different state of mind, more self-conscious and a little closed in a way. Dealing with everything on our own. That might be the side effect of being the two of us working together all the time, you turn into some kind of a protective cocoon. And it's also a matter of trust. So he changed that for the better. And more. We feel like we pushed each other into searching for the best illustration of our fantasies and also our vision of today's man. We created a special and trustful connexion together along with an inspirational exchange that kept on growing over the years.


What was it about his designs that appealed to you?
Right from the start the amazing thing about collaborating with Stiaan was that we would come up with a shoot concept, a model, share references together quickly, then he would start designing... And we would later receive the pieces for the shoot. Like a Xmas gift, amazed. First of all by the reciprocity of ideas and also by the beauty and freedom of his vision. It was truly liberating and inspiring. As well as his taste for cuts, fabric and colors. With the strong sex appeal of his work, we felt completely at ease to play with it and make it ours in a way. Our pictures being a continuation of his designs and the other way around. He was also feeling comfortable to deliver what he deeply wanted to, knowing we would understand him and go for it all the way.

Will the products available on the site constantly change?
Yes! Always surprises! We want people to be as excited as we are with EXSL. Always exploring and pushing. 

I love how your photos tell a story about each product. How did you go about choosing the models for each story?
Choosing a model depends on many factors... Connection, inspiration, something! And it's also a matter of timing. You could be into someone without being in the right place at the right time. The most wonderful thing about EXSL, and it was also the case for our past collaborations with Stiaan, is that each mini collection is inspired by the model himself. The model usually comes first, and then we decide what story we want to tell with him, where we want to go with him... In terms of looks, mood, places... It really is a story.


What attracted you to the likes of Andrew Morrill, Brent Ray Fraser and Dan Bevan?
Andrew Morrill has always been such a big crush for us. He's been to Stiaan's studio in South Africa for fittings for his story, we all had to wait a year to finally make that shooting happen in London... Talking about stories!!! Brent is a performer that we admire, we love his freedom and his ability to combine sex and art, to the max. Dan is a favourite, we've been following him for quite some time, we got so lucky he was doing a trip to Europe so we could make that first collaboration together happen.


Will there also be a NSFW booklet available for every model that appears on EXSL?
No rules! Just fun. 

Can we expect a cameo or two from ‘The Stillest Hour’ cast?
Who knows?! That would be pretty cool!

What do you hope to achieve with EXSL?
With EXSL we want to offer something different, fresh and qualitative. We want people to embark on a journey through design and photography. A visual and sensual experience. So you can exhale both watching and wearing our brand.


What can you tell us about the models you plan to shoot next?
We are shooting a beautiful French black model for a new harness... Then summer break! And more to come... 

Thanks boys!


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