INTERVIEW: DOUGLAS GREENWOOD
Journalist and editor of Frowning, Douglas Greenwood answered all the bitches’ questions about feminism and smells.
What first made you take an interest in fashion writing?
Is it bad to say The Devil Wears Prada? I saw the film version in a multiplex movie theatre as an 11-year-old kid, and I remember thinking that that world seemed so luxurious, if slightly unattainable. I’ve always been a bit of a fantasist in that sense. My goals have never felt like they were in easy reach, and so I thought “Fuck it, I want to work at a magazine one day”. It just so happened that I had to make Frowning to get there! I write about everything now; fashion, cinema and music mainly. But fashion has always had that fantastical place in my heart. Streetwear takes
I write about everything now; fashion, cinema and music mainly. But fashion has always had that fantastical place in my heart. Streetwear takes hold, because I love that democratised, slightly rough around the edges element to it. The discussion around it is so intriguing too, because it’s something that can be owned by a rich, influential figure and a semi-broke fashion student. I love that disparity, and how the two parties style in their own way.
Tell us about some of the women who have inspired your career?
I think women have been instrumental in shaping my creative side, which ultimately became my career. It goes back to my mother, who pushed me to read books as a kid, and my grandmother who used to call me up on a Wednesday evening to ask which magazine I wanted her to bring the following day. It gravitated from comic books to Vanity Fair over the space of a decade, but all the while I was reading incessantly, and that shaped me hugely. Neither of those women are with me now, but they’re the ones, along with the rest of my family, that I truly work hard for.
My sister’s an artist and had a keen interest in fashion when she was younger. It was her who taught me about designers when I was a fascinated 12-year-old! She’s my buddy for everything now: cinema, concerts, exhibitions, and I like to think we teach each other lots.
And although she’s not family, Hanna Hanra has been a mentor-like figure for me for the past year or so. She runs this kickass music zine called BEAT and headed up the i-D and Chanel project The Fifth Sense, which focussed on the sensual power of female creativity. She’s now (deservedly so) the digital director of i-D. Hanna was the first editor to ever commission me to write as a professional after I slid into her Instagram DMs to ask her advice on how to run a zine properly! Thank god she replied. She’s my saviour in journalism, and I wouldn’t be half the writer I am today without her. Where do you find inspiration for your own style?
Where do you find inspiration for your own style?
Ask anybody I went to high school with: I’ve been dressing like an attention-seeking loon for a decade! Nowadays, my style is much more pared back and subtle, but I love statement pieces, and mixing streetwear with more tailored pieces. My go-to outfit tends to be a Gosha Rubchinskiy t-shirt, a pair of wide legged tuxedo trousers and a pair of sneakers.
I guess my inspiration comes from everywhere: outfits I see skateboarders and streetwear kids wearing; Instagram; shit my dad used to wear. I think there needs to be an element of narcissism in style. You want to look good and stand out to a degree, which is super important. I feel a sense of disappointment when somebody says I’m dressed “normal” some days. It fucking sucks! What gender equality causes mean the most to you personally and why? I write a lot about cinema, and the blatant dominance and preference for the work of the middle-aged white man still troubles me greatly. Sure, an experienced director who fits that bill can make great or even masterful cinema, but there’s not a lack of female directors; it’s just a case of who’s getting funding to make more films.
There’s an embarrassing photo from the Cannes Film Festival this year, in which a line-up of Palme d’Or winners is a sea of grey white men with the brilliant Jane Campion tagged on the end. In the festival’s 70 year history, she’s the only woman that the juries enlisted felt was worthy of that prize, and that’s troubling. It’s an issue that permeates so many subsections of cinema; people of colour and the queer community experience similar discrimination. Look at the listings for your multiplex cinema on any given day, and there’s a 95% chance that there won’t be a woman director on that list. Is that not fucked up?
I suppose this issue affects me personally because some of my favourite filmmakers and cinephiles are women, and these issues aren’t even subtle to them. It’s blatant everyday sexism that they have to face, and once you see things from their perspective, the industry looks bleak.Do you identify as a feminist? Tell us how that is received?
Do you identify as a feminist? Tell us how that is received?
Of course – I reckon you can’t fully trust the opinion of anybody who isn’t a feminist these days.
The thing that gives me hope is that people my age (those born in the early/mid nineties) have feminism in their blood. We’ve been influenced by the world around us to believe that this is an important issue to follow, and it’s now second nature to so many. That doesn’t mean the problems solved, it just means that the pool of allies fighting the cause is growing, which can only be a good thing.
I mentioned I was doing this to a few people, and they laughed off the idea of me being a “feminist writer”, but I do consider myself to be one, even if it isn’t the label slapped on everything I do. As a writer, it’s my job to seek out the stories that need to be told, and the issue of feminism is always something I’m conscious of when pitching to places or curating the magazine. Frowning is dominated by amazing female voices and artists, and I’m really proud of that!
What are your favourite smells and why?
• Lavender, because it reminds me of spending Saturday nights at my grandmother’s house with a hot water bottle as a young boy. Even now, I’ll always pick lavender flavoured/scented everything first.
• Molten sugar, because there’s genuinely nothing that’s smells as delicious as that.• Fresh air, because as a writer it’s something you rarely get to experience!• Roses, because it took me so long to warm to them and now I’m making up for lost time.
Are you a witch or a bitch?
I reckon 90% of my mates would say a bitch, but I mean my snide comments to them in good humour! Bitch has connotations of power, being headstrong and knowing what you want, so fuck it– call me a bitch!