"Introducing an emerging designer creating captivating leather fashions."
NEW TYPE #9: J.ELSTER - JENNIFER ELSTER Interview
TWELV Magazine recently visited filmmaker and designer, Jennifer Elster, at her studio, The Development. After a long hibernation, Elster is soon to open a pop-up store and gallery in Tribeca.
--------------- Jennifer Elster's Interview ---------------
1. How has the transition been from working in cinema as a director and writer to working as the designer of J. Elster?
There has never been a transition per se. I go back and forth. Shortly after creating The Pouch Collection I began cutting leather and sculpting shapes while I was editing my film series. I have been going in between multiple things at once my whole life. It is how my brain works, but it is, of course, a struggle at times. Everything moves forward slowly because there is a range of projects at once.
2. The aesthetics of J. Elster seem to encapsulate the overall artistic creativity of your other projects: The Development, ChannelElster.com. Is this so? And, if so, how were you able to cultivate this creativity as a filmmaker into a fashion accessory brand?
They are all facets of my personality. Truth. Raw. Wild. Sophisticated. Absurd. Curious. Introverted. Extroverted. Mysterious. Etc. Unfinished edges, jagged edges and unexpected cuts are signature elements in my philosophy for the J. Elster collection.
3. Do you have past experience designing?
I design my surroundings, sometimes obsessively. I design my life as much as I am capable of. I had style since I was a kid. It wasn't anything I thought of. When I was younger I worked with the Late David Bowie and many others and for magazines such as The Face etc. as a conceptual stylist. I pushed boundaries quite far. I continue to do that in whatever form I am working in.
4. How did you maintain the integrity on multiple projects?
Integrity isn't fleeting. It is a constant if you have it. So I maintain it by being true to myself and my visions.
Warriors for truth. Powerful beauty. Love and doing the right thing for the future. Raw power.
6. Tell us a bit about The Development. What brought about the opening this space, which seems to be a place of endless creativity and exploration?
The Development is a living installation. Once inside, it is an exploratory experience. I describe it as a counter culture hub of interactivity. The space has its own energy. When people come by there is an interaction. I believe it is a space that reveals to the guest that there is alternative way of living where being real is not only required at the door but appreciated once inside. Expansiveness is the currency. Artwork everywhere. Various works in progress.
7. And what exactly is ChannelElster?
A Place for Out of the Ordinary Cinema and Sound. I will be launching the original mini series that I directed IN MY MIRROR featuring Jorgen Leth (filmmaker, The Five Obstructions), Gale Harold (actor, Queer As Folk) and myself, on the channel. There will be performance art pieces and soundscapes. Thereafter, I will also profile other audio visual artists. I don't really want to talk about it too much because I don't want to somehow contain what will be.
8. You have had many artists participate in your projects, such as Yoko Ono, Terrence Howard, Rufus Wainwright, Liya Kebede and the list goes on. How have you been able to attract so many artists to participate in your projects?
The casting process has always been quite natural though it requires a lot of work. Each subject has a unique story of how they got involved. I have been fortunate that people trust me and my peculiar style of filmmaking. I predominately grew up in NYC. I have known some of the subjects in my films, such as Moby and Rosie Perez, for twenty years. Now NYC is a bit of a mall and a lot of regurgitation. But the underground is still alive. You just have to know where to look. Let's see how it goes.
9. How do you find the time to work on so many large creative projects?
I have always worked obsessively to express myself. I have been overflowing with inspiration and feeling since a child. I don't know how I end up doing so many different projects except that it begins naturally and then, like vines, slowly takes over. The hardest part for me is to stop creating to get the projects out the door. I am getting better at it, but it takes time and is a challenge because I tend to hibernate and get consumed in the moment.
10. What is your most important project so far?
Although I am obsessed with my expressions in many ways, I am even more dedicated to my personal life and the people I care about. So my most important project is reality. The reality of my life. Helping others and giving back is pressing on my mind these last years so I get involved and help out charities and as many people as I can. Creatively everything comes from within so choosing between one part of myself over another is difficult.
11. What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I am moving into my first public space, the J. Elster Gallery & Pop Up Store, to share some expressions. I hope that the people who come by this living, work in progress, installation will receive and interact. Film. Art. Live performances. More. I will be selling my J. Elster collection. Perhaps people will respond to the raw style and get entangled. The pop up gallery and store J. Elster will be located in the storefront of 75 Leonard Street.
Online Shop: JElster.nyc
Film Channel: ChannelElster.com
INTERVIEWED BY: CAITLIN KING
PRODUCER: AYAKO IMAGAWA
PHOTOGRAPHY: CHIAKI KATO