Philippa Price Would Go to Outer Space, But She Might Be Sad There
Artist and all-around creative Philippa Price may have done the best thing for her career when she told Rihanna she was wrong. As a Creative Collaborator for Savage X Fenty’s Fall 2019 campaign and NYFW show, Philippa Price has come a long way from refusing to change the visuals for Bad Gal Riri‘s larger-than-life “Work” performance at the 2016 BRIT awards. “I don’t even know what came over me. I marched over to her table and I was like, ‘I think you’re wrong.’ It just came out of me,” Price recalls over breakfast margaritas at Cafeteria in Chelsea. “I actually think that’s why we still work together.” Several performances and fashion shows later, the duo have transitioned from collaborators to trusted friends. Price’s star-studded resume includes directing for Stella McCartney, St. Vincent, and most recently Katy Perry, as well as creating a now-defunct clothing brand embraced and made famous by A$AP Rocky, 2 Chainz, and Tumblr teens the world over. Born in England and bred in Los Angeles, Price reigns supreme over her particular—and peculiar—vision of a psychedelic visual universe, one that seems to follow her everywhere she goes. She arrived to our interview clad in a campy Thom Browne look, complete with lacquered stiletto nails, a mini-tie, and an armory of rings, including one with a bedazzling gem that once saved her life, literally. (It helped her turn into a “ninja” when she was mugged in Jamaica.)
Price, with her futuristic, hyper-charged imagery and sharp wit, comes across as a well-rounded artist, a well-versed conversationalist, and a woman who, much like Rihanna and her other collaborators, is well-acquainted with not giving a fuck. In between shooting a project at Poland’s Energy Institute, a space where “they make artificial storms, lightning and rain storms,” and producing her short film which explores “the American Dream, pentecostal tent revivals, cowgirls, and Jolly Green Giant frozen sweet corn,” Price grabbed a “Rude Margarita” with us and answered some questions lifted from Andy Warhol’s legendary 1977 interview with Glenn O’Brien. Below, she shares her thoughts on outer space, perfume, censorship, and her place among the higher powers of the cosmic world.
ERNEST MACIAS: Did you get good grades in art school?
PHILIPPA PRICE: I did well in art school. Actually half and half. I did well in the classes I cared about.
MACIAS: Were you arty in high school?
PRICE: Yes, but also very nerdy at the same time. I was always an artist. I actually didn’t think I was going to go to art school. I wanted to do science.
MACIAS: What did you do for fun when you were a teenager?
PRICE: Rode my horse.
MACIAS: Who was the first artist to influence you?
PRICE: My great-great-aunt is pretty famous in her world as a fashion designer in England, but for the royal family. I was always obsessed with Dali.
MACIAS: What’s your favorite color?
PRICE: The rainbow. It changes from purple to orange to pink. Generally purple. It honestly depends on my hair. I’d say mostly purple.
MACIAS: Have you ever done any drugs?
PRICE: Absolutely. Have you seen my work?
MACIAS: Have you ever been drunk?
MACIAS: What happens when you get drunk?
PRICE: I think I can really hold my alcohol really well. I literally will blackout and people think, “No, you were not drinking last night.”
MACIAS: Do you think that people should live in outer space?
PRICE: Yes, but I would feel bad for those people.
PRICE: Because you’re going to have to live in a suit bubble for the rest of your life. I would go live in outer space, but I also think the thought of being trapped in a little bubble and then having to be in that bubble when I go outside—I don’t know if I could handle that.
MACIAS: Do you think the future will be futuristic?
PRICE: This is definitely the subject of a lot of my work. I’m obsessed with thinking about it. I could see a future where we go backwards in human. I feel like we are going backwards right now.
MACIAS: Do you know how to drive?
PRICE: Yes, I live in LA. You have to drive or else you die.
MACIAS: Do you look in the mirror when you get up?
PRICE: No, not really. I don’t like looking in the mirror. I don’t have a mirror in my room so I don’t look in the mirror until I go to the bathroom.
MACIAS: How much time do you spend on the phone every day?
PRICE: I am literally known by everyone as someone who’s really hard to get ahold of. I am so proud of that reputation. It lessens the anxiety of not answering people because everyone is like, “Oh, it’s Philippa, she doesn’t answer her phone.”
MACIAS: That’s great, I love that.
PRICE: It’s funny that that question was asked in the ‘70s. That was one of the questions?
MACIAS: Yeah, that was one of the questions. I think Andy [Warhol] liked being on the phone a lot.
PRICE: You could order a phone to your table at a restaurant. Have you seen that?
MACIAS: In the movies, when they’re like, “Can I get a phone?”
PRICE: On a platter, yeah.
MACIAS: I guess you could do that here. They’ll bring you an iPhone or something.
PRICE: That would be awesome.
MACIAS: Do you think gay people are more creative than straight people?
PRICE: No. I’m straight, so I don’t know. My most creative moments come from a challenge, and I think people in a challenge will be creative.
MACIAS: In what ways, do you think?
PRICE: When people call us Generation Snowflake they’re pretty right. We have it pretty fucking easy. My cousin and I have an organization that we run with the Gully Queens in Jamaica. They’re like the first group of out, gay, trans, and drag queens. There was like 30 of them. The gully means sewer. They live in a sewer in Kingston.
PRICE: Literally a sewer. A sewer is one way in, one way out, so they can protect themselves. In Jamaica, if you come out as gay or if people find out you’re gay, you’re literally a walking target. We did this whole fashion video for Vogue to tell their story. All of them were under the age of 25. One of them had been stabbed nine times, one of them had the whole side of her body burned from when her family found out she was trans. One of them had been shot in the back. We obviously knew people in the town and made sure we were shooting in a really safe place—they were afraid to even get out of the van we had. We got an ex-Army security guard. There was one part where we were smoking a joint and our friends shared the joints with the Gully Queens and the Gully Queens couldn’t believe it. They said, “This is the first time we’ve felt hope.” Comparing them to people who live in LA or New York, I’m like, shut up, you have it so lucky. We still do projects to raise money for them. We’ve gotten them safe housing now. They live in a house that recently someone tried to burn down. It’s an ongoing war.
MACIAS: That is so crazy. That takes me to the next question. Do you believe in the American Dream?
PRICE: It’s definitely, again, a subject of a lot of my work. I think our country believes in the American Dream. I don’t know if I believe in its proof, but I believe it as a total reality of America.
MACIAS: Do you believe in God?
PRICE: I believe that there is a higher power, but I don’t know if I call him God.
MACIAS: What’s your favorite scent?
PRICE: I’m working on making perfume, so I’m very into perfume right now. I love tobacco, I love Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather. It kind of smells like cocaine, which is kind of weird. I read that in a New York Times article a few years ago. Someone sent it to me and said, “Is there actually cocaine in Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather?”
MACIAS: Do you think the world can be saved?
PRICE: Yes. I think we’re constantly in a process of saving ourselves.
MACIAS: Do you think there should be any censorship?
PRICE: My views are neither right nor left, but they are different from a lot of what people expect them to be. I think people have become way too liberal and super sensitive, and it’s actually creating censorship again. It’s kind of scary.
MACIAS: It’s a big question.
PRICE: I think children should be censored from some of the horrors of the world until a certain age. I think you should be allowed to dream as a child.
MACIAS: What is your star sign?
PRICE: You should guess.
MACIAS: I was leaning towards Sagittarius. I don’t know why.
PRICE: Capricorn, minus some things. Most things say Capricorns are very rigid, but I’m definitely not. You know how you actually have three signs? This book my friend inherited from her great grandmother has a chapter of every combo of all the signs. When I was younger, I was very accident-prone. I had a riding accident where I knocked out my own teeth, broke 13 bones, and basically ripped my lip off. The book said as a child you’ll probably have one or many accidents where you’ll break most of your bones, especially your teeth. Witchcraft is real.
MACIAS: You’ve got to believe in energy.
PRICE: I’m obsessed with my dreams. We forget to pay attention to them.
MACIAS: Small things do guide you.
PRICE: Yesterday as I was leaving my hotel room I wrote in my notebook, “lightning bug in a jar.” I’m walking to meet my friend and there was a lightning bug flying right in front of me. I’ve never seen one in the city before.