Alexander : I was out last night, so I’m a bit hungover. You found me just waking up.
Björk : I’m sorry.
Alexander : It’s cool. Today the first person I speak to is Bjork. So you’re in Brussels now ? With your baby.
Björk : With the baby, and Matthew is here too, so it’s excellent. I’ve been trying to be professional and write down things to ask you, but I can’t read what I wrote !
Alexander : Chicken Scratches.
Björk : This is not exactly a question...I felt that, in the ’90s, our generation was trying to make friends between nature and technology. And our parents or whoever made us believe that the two were supposed to be enemies.
Alexander : Completely.
Björk : It was our role to make them friends. I can see so much of this in your work — you have this really raw animal stuff mixed with high tech. I do that with music, I take a harp, or something that’s acoustic and organic, and clash it with...
Alexander : Something computer generated.
Björk : Yeah. With our generation, I felt there was this hope that the whole world would unite through this. Then the whole war thing, it went sour. I was wondering how you felt about all that.
Alexander : I’ve done loads of collections based on man and machine and man and nature, but ultimately my work is always in some way directed by nature. It needs to connect with the earth. Things that are processed and reprocessed lose their substance.
Björk : Exactly.
Alexander : I support what your saying about this connection between man and nature, but it’s like you’re talking to a brick wall when it comes to the rest of the world. Everyone wants an easier life. I don’t think nature fits into most people’s concepts of an easier life.
Björk : When I was thinking about you, for some reason I remembered an interview I’d read with this one architect. He talked about something he called the tyranny of the oblivious. He thinks there are two types of creative people — the people who gather ideas, and the people who fall into a state of oblivion and create something out of nothing. He sees himself as a gatherer, and he can’t stand the second group. His theory is that the people who collect ideas feel really threatened by those who create from nothing. That’s what he means by the tyranny of the oblivious. Which group do you think you are in ?
Alexander : I would be the dreamer. I get my ideas out of my dreams. Does that make me a tyrant ?
Björk : I just thought it was really interesting.
Alexander : If you’re lucky enough to use something you see in a dream , it is purely original. It’s not in the world it’s in your head. I think that is amazing. Maybe I’m just a fucking tyrant. I like that.
Björk : This guy was on a mission to get the dreamers off the planet. I think he was jealous.
Alexander : I think he’s got a chip on his shoulder.
Björk : I’m actually quite tired today. I did a show last night.
Alexander : How did it go ?
Björk : Really well. Radiohead played right after me. I’d never seen them live. Thom Yorke is just outrageous.
Alexander : An amazing group.
Björk : If you made music, what would it sound like ?
Alexander : If I were a musician, I would search for indigenous music and indigenous instruments and form an orchestra- maybe some wooden pipes from the Amazon and some guitars from India. I’d create a global music that’s unlike anything anyone has ever heard. Quite like you do.
Björk : Would it be upbeat or downbeat ?
Alexander : They would have to play Donna Summer. There would be a break beat coming from the Amazon and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons from India- and spill drums from New York. I’d mix it all together. How amazing would that be ?
Björk : It sounds good.
Alexander : It would be the longest single on the face of the Earth.
Björk : Have you ever thought about actually making music ?
Alexander : You don’t want to hear me sing, but, yeah, I make music for my shows. In any collection, there are probably over three hundred concepts I’m referencing. So for the music to work, it has to relate to all of those references. We do research on the Internet and get all this weird music. My last show was like a trip from the Siberian Tundra into Japan. I used the most overexposed people in music- Britney Spears, Christina Aguilara- and mixed them with indigenous music. It was very tongue-in-cheek. It was my wy of explaining that there is more to life than packaged records.
Björk : I didn’t see your last show. I was in the wrong country again. I should get the video from you.
Alexander : I’ll send it to you.
Björk : When I was living in London you were doing, like, eight collections year.
Alexander : Fourteen.
Björk : Fourteen, sorry. [laughs]
Alexander : That was a very traumatic time in my life. Fashion is like the music industry — the constant media attention creates a lot of pressure. When you are doing so much work for two different fashion houses, you end up becoming schizophrenic.
Björk : It’s even worse because at least in the music industry there is a chance you might sign to label. For young designers, their isn’t even a label.
Alexander : That’s true. When I started out in ’92, I had nothing — there was nothing really in London. But it was a good time, actually, because people were collaborating. Since we had no money, no way of producing things- music, fashion, art, whatever- we all knew that we had to work together. People would produce your show for free, they’d do the music for free. Today, people have become very selfish.
Björk : Everyone ?
Alexander : The big record companies and design house think plowing a lot of money into one person will make him great. That isn’t necessarily true. The crux of it is that you need a solid foundation to work upon. That takes time.
Björk : Unless they end up working for the big houses, young designers have no place to go. It’s insane.
Alexander : It was just as hard for me. It took five years before I made money. You do it for the love of the job. I love fashion. Not as much as I used to but... I still love it. I have good days and bad days. If you have a vision and you want it to get out there, you have to sacrifice some things in life.
Björk : Do you think that sort of commitment holds true for relationships ? Do you think as creatures we are made to be monogamous ?
Alexander : Yes, I really do believe that. Swans do it. A lot of animals are strictly monogamous, even if they travel. Migratory birds always come back to the same partner to breed. I have always been a monogamous person. I don’t’ have the time and energy for more than one partner. [laughs] Do you believe we’re supposed to be monogamous ?
Björk : I think so, yeah.
Alexander : Promiscuity is partially responsible for the proliferation of HIV and AIDS. I have a very idealistic idea of what my life should be about. The road I’ve chosen is a clean path of monogamy. Of course, as a gay man, it is not really going to happen. [laughs] I’ve been single now for over two years. Got any boyfriends ?