During lockdown, stylist and creative director Nazanin Shahnavaz and her partner, musician Austin Milne, passed the time by reading up on transhuman philosophy. An Iranian futurist called FM-2030 particularly caught their attention. Following his death in 2000, FM-2030 is currently frozen in a cryonics facility in the Arizona desert and is scheduled to be 're-animated' for his 100th birthday in the year 2030 - hence the cryptic name. 'Conventional names define a person's past: ancestry, ethnicity, nationality, religion. I am not who I was ten years ago and certainly not who I will be in twenty years,' he said.
Inspired by the anti-nostalgic, futuristic qualities of transhuman philosophy, Shahnavaz and Milne decided to launch their new, London-based label Appeal To Heaven with these principles in mind. 'So much of culture is recycled and nostalgia can be extremely profitable given the safety it offers, but it’s insidious and rarely leads anywhere new,' they say. The pandemic also gave the pair a chance to step back and think about what they wanted from their professional lives. 'We felt beholden to fewer people, ideas and conventions as lockdown dragged on and we’d always wanted to find a way to collaborate. Nazanin was tired of creating value for others in the (fashion) industry and it was time to step into the next chapter.'
The label's first campaign sees frequent SHOWstudio collaborators Jazzelle Zanaughtti (aka @uglyworldwide) and Princess Gollum transformed into 3D transhuman avatars, courtesy of Hong Kong-based digital artist Ruby Gloom. Nick Knight first discovered Jazzelle on Instagram; the pair have since collaborated on SHOWstudio's #STYLESHOOTDRAW life drawing project (2016), a Comme des Garçons editorial for AnOther Magazine's A/W 16 issue, a Best in Show and more. In 2018, a whole project was built around Jazzelle - eponymously titled @uglyworldwide - which explored identity, gender and self-expression via make-up and fashion to distort appearance. In 2020, LA-based model and performance artist Josephine Lee (aka Princess Gollum) took part in Profile, a virtual fashion film project which took place over Zoom.
ABRA and Ruby Gloom also feature. Entitled Transcend Reality: Manifestation of a Deity, the campaign depicts digitised electric blue oversized silk satin scarves draped over second skin turtlenecks amid the occasional bionic leg.
Astrology fans, this label is also for you. All of the Appeal To Heaven garments feature variations of a pattern the pair have called 'Antares,' named after a star in the Scorpius constellation. 'It’s beautiful to think that so many cultures can celebrate and derive meaning from something that’s equally shared and yet distant for all,' say the pair.
For a label devised during the pandemic, Appeal To Heaven is inherently optimistic, utilising technology to imagine alternate realities in the face of real world restrictions. 'ATH aims to evoke, invite and reach for the future,' say Shahnavaz and Milne. Let's hope the post-pandemic era turns out to be just as bright.