March 30, 2015
Giving up the charming, friendly lifestyle of Brighton was hard, and trading it for the big anonymous city strange, but for art director and stylist Alexander Breeze, the reward was worth it. Following his interest in art, media, and photography, Alexander found that the abundance of galleries, architecture, history, culture, and even London’s underground mice, is a rich source of inspiration. “It took me a while, but I love living here now. London is a city that grows on you.”
I moved to London about two years ago, though I have been working here for about ten years. My job has taken me all over the city, but it’s in the south where I feel most at home. I love Brighton – where I was living before moving to London – but it was getting too pricy to live there and travel up everyday. The commute was murder. I don’t know how I managed to do it for so long: I did various internships and assisted stylists for about two years; you’re always the first one there and the last one to leave, after everything’s been cleared away. Sometimes I went from the party straight to the train, then on to the office or shoot without sleep. I spent a lot of my time running for the train and always just about catching it.
I felt like I knew what to expect, to a certain extent. I knew that I’d be leaving my friends on the coast behind (which was my biggest worry) but after having worked here for so long I had a sense of what parts of London I liked and where I wanted to hang out. I was looking forward to being a part of the hub; the centre of the machine.
I remember coming to London as a teenager. Everything seemed so vast. Growing up in the country, I wasn’t used to things being on such a large scale. It seemed impossibly big and very far away. My experience of London changed, of course, as I grew up. In adulthood it became a place of work and its focus as one of the key cultural centres in the UK was, and continues to be, very inspiring. I still gravitate to the things that brought me here as a kid though: the museums, theatres and architecture. The anonymity of such a big place scared me at first. Hardly ever seeing the same people in the street from day to day. Everyone doing their own thing. I was used to people from the city saying things like ‘everyone’s so friendly here’ when I lived in Brighton. I didn’t understand. I just thought that everyone was being normal. It’s not like everyone was high-fiving strangers in the street. But now I live here I totally understand. People don’t have time; they’re always on the move. That’s just the way things are.
It took me a while, but I love living here now. London is a city that grows on you. I love living in Brixton, where in the summer it’s like a big party. The market on Electric Avenue is great – a good, old fashioned London market – and Brixton Village in the center is fab and still has an element of “realness” to it. It’s not total hipsterfication, yet. Outside my neighborhood the most important things to me in London are the galleries and museums. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not at every new show or private view – but having such important art on show (from the ancient to the work of living artists) is hugely exciting. I’m lucky enough to work quite centrally most days and I try to pop in to the British Museum and the V&A in particular whenever I can.
I love the variety of the city – each area has its own feeling. I love South Ken for its design shops and museums; the East End for its transient trendiness mixed with authentic old London; W1 for the shopping and bustle; Brixton for the colour and atmosphere.
It’s difficult to pinpoint a time when I knew that being a stylist/creative director was what I wanted to be. I didn’t even know that job existed until after I graduated. I managed to get work experience in the fashion department of a men’s high fashion biannual I idolized as a teenager and it suddenly started to make sense. Having said that, looking back it all just feels so natural: my interest in art, my love of magazines from a very young age, and, of course, love of photography. I knew that I’d never be a photographer – the process wasn’t quite right for me – but the visual side, the creation of something unique through collaboration, I found irresistible.
Work brought me here, but the surroundings keep me inspired. The architecture and history. Little things, too, like the mice on the underground. Whenever I feel a bit sad (and nothing has the potential to make you sadder than the grime of the tube some days) I always look down and try to see a mouse.
I feel like London is at a crossroads. A tipping point. At the moment it’s becoming harder and harder for creatives to establish themselves and live and work here. Creativity grows like a weed: once it’s there it continues to grow, then others spring up and make their own perfect environment. Creative people inspire one another and want to share spaces with like-minded individuals. If they are priced out of the city then who knows what will happen. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.