Alli Lorraine is a Philadelphia native, her love of style truly began at age 7 when she crafted a tank top out of a terry cloth towel, which she was not allowed to wear outside of the house. Through visits to the Met and the Museum at FIT, many hours spent researching and reading Vogue in the library, and a keen eye for street style, her fashion sense has dramatically evolved since then. Alli enjoys singing along (poorly) at concerts, sketching and drawing in Central Park, and dreaming of owning a Saint Laurent leather jacket.
“It’s such a broad thing to say,” Danger Dave tells me at the SXSW Convention Center. Behind him, artists decorate Laser Cat, a giant inflatable cat that projects art through its laser eyes, with symbols of death. (This is its ninth, and thus final, exhibition: as the saying goes, Laser Cat only has so many lives.) “We make art and fashion inspired by the internet.”
Hungry Castle literally creates Cool Shit: it’s a sub-brand of the studio, that uses “cats, crying celebrities, and memes” to create its own global language. “It just makes sense,” says Dave. “We’re the generation of the internet.” Through Cool Shit, DD and his co-artists reference “pop culture moments that are universal, not specific to a city or a country or a language.”
Though Hungry Castle “travels around the world to bring color, life, and fun to people’s lives,” the studio is based in Barcelona. They take inspiration from another Barcelona-based artist: Salvador Dalí. “Dalí influences me on a conceptual level. He’s somebody who creates a character; he is a work of art–he made art and he was art.That’s definitely a reference for us, dressing up in the yellow suits, creating our identity and doing a performance.” Part of Cool Shit’s, well, coolness, is its enthusiastic embrace of the display. Dave gestures to the seventeen-foot-tall Laser Cat behind me: “This could have been painted discreetly the week before, but we’re doing it live because it’s a spectacle. There’s all these people crowded around us watching, thinking, ‘What the fuck is going on?'”
Not only does Hungry Castle create Cool Shit You Can See, their clothing line provides Cool Shit You Can Wear. “The art is the story behind it. We don’t feel like we’re selling clothing or fashion, we’re selling stories.”
Another facet is Hungry Castle’s utilization of Barcelona’s classic and traditional clothing manufacture industry. “There’s a long history for production in Spain and Portugal so it’s easy to tap into that.” For more elaborate pieces–we’re talking t-shirts with holographic sleeves–Cool Shit works with a company out of Hong Kong. “They have the technology to make more forward-thinking stuff, whereas Barcelona is a bit more classic, old-school, with simpler stuff,” explains Dave. But whatever the clothing’s origin, Dave adds, “The conditions have to be right, everything made correctly, lots of integrity,” just like its artwork.
Past Cool Shit installations include an interactive sculpture of Lionel Richie’s head, “extrapolated,” as Dave says, from the 1982 “Hello” music-video-turned-meme where a blind student made a clay likeness of Mr. Richie. For 2015’s “ahsdha,” Dave says, “We put Nicholas Cage in a cage, ’cause he’s a dangerous person and he just needs to be there.” Then there’s the aforementioned Laser Cat, and an upcoming “Sad Kanye” project. “It’s a great meme,” Dave explains.
“The concept for Sad Kanye is its positive spin: we want to make him happy.” Debuting at Australia’s Splendour in the Grass this July then moving to Bestival in the U.K. and onwards to the States, “We’re gonna call out for people to make [Kanye] happy. We’re gonna do Kanye Karaoke, have free Kanye Coffee, we’re gonna write love letters to Kanye and post them to him. It’s different ideas to conceptually make him happy, to transform that resting bitch face into a slightly-less-bitchy face. A resting happy face.”