Marchi-grrrl: Slid Needham
Issue 1 / October 24, 2020
Pippi Longstocking Gone Gabber
Interview by Jessica Ann Richardson
Edited by Izzy Yon
Slid’s a bikini lover. Picture Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers leaving the pool-party early to attend goth
convention. Suicide Squad’s Harley Quinn skipping home from an evening of satanic games at a House
of Horrors. A slayer of style, she’s not exactly a save-it-for-the-night kinda girl. Gladrags are sported 24/7.
Today’s ensemble: a tubed choker, grey sweats and huge UR T-shirt with her hair tied in pigtails. Pippi
Longstocking gone gabber.
In her own words she always aims to look “a little scary, a little cute, a little sporty and a little naughty.” A tattoo of her logo graces the forefront of her neck — very Tricia from Orange is the New Black. Scary achieved. Blonde pigtails tied with harajuku elastic bands. Cute achieved. Sweatpants and sports bras. Sporty achieved. Slid’s signature joker-esque make-up and babydoll vibe. Naughty achieved. In short, Slid knows how to piece a look together in her sleep.
Jessica Ann Richardson: What are your favourite pieces of clothing?
Slid Needham: My mini black and red semi-metallic tube dress, Puma ex F1 racing boots and black puffa.
Jessica: Do you collect archive designer pieces?
Slid: I wouldn’t call myself a collector but I do have a few cute pieces of old Helmut Lang and Vivienne Westwood.
Jessica: What’s been your craziest fashion moment?
Slid: Last month I wore a full bikini and attached mini no tuck to a gabber event.
Never a dull moment with Baby Slid. And she is a baby. Softly spoken and sweet-natured — her disposition seems at odds with her extreme tone of dress. An introvert connecting with the world through her own image. “I’d say my taste is quite tough in a hard-mechanical sort of way and soft in an Enya sort of way”. Still a student, June 2020 marks the date her graduation collection will debut. “Trans-post pornographic medical weaponry” hints to some of what we might expect. Of her collection, she describes it as her most personal work to date “It’s the furthest possible extension of myself and I’m so excited to share her!” I ask her what designing clothes mean to her personally. Her response is akin to a transcendental experience: “There’s one escape that has always been clothing for me: a moment when you get to switch off what’s going on upstairs and where you get to switch on what’s going on downstairs”. Designing for her is not only a creative process but provides a retreat from the outside world.
Jessica: What music do you listen to whilst working?
Slid: Anything hard that has the capacity to make the mind bleed a little.
Jessica: Could you talk a little more about your dissertation? What is the title?
Slid: ‘Slid from the fabricated ﬂaps’ analysis of my second birth as a trans person, the compartmentalisation of our bodies and ﬂuid gender possibilities.
Jessica: Is there a particular fashion show or time in fashion that resonates with you that you found inspiring?
Slid: Controversially no, I try to look forwards the best I can, staying true to my vision and what's to come.
Jessica: Is there anything you would change about the industry? Do you see yourself going into mainstream commercial fashion or creating your own practice/brand?
Slid: I am thinking of applying for the MA and I want to see how far you can really push your own practice and how many times you can rip yourself apart and put yourself together again.
Jessica: What excites you about the industry?
I like the community spirit within some of the industry, especially what Nasir is doing with fantastic toiles and all the amazing designers there.
Jessica: Is there anyone’s work you admire within the industry?
There are lots of people who have so much crazy talent and such amazing vision, Matty Bovan, Nasir Mazhar, Louise Gray, the list goes on :)
This girl has talent, and bags of it. To date, she's performed at a Vivienne Westwood show and had her designs stocked in Nasir Mashar’s Fantastic Toiles alongside established designers Claire Barrow and Louise Gray. There is a definite buzz surrounding Slid. She is pioneering a path for other trans girls both within her surrounding community and online. She describes her style evolution as “a very long development that will continue to change ''. References of “strippers, sex industries, clown and dark steeled blade warrior” make up part of today's current package. This is documented through her Instagram which reads like a catalogue of selfies. Her first account came up against scrutiny from the site eventually being taken down due a breach of nudity clauses. Of this, she responds “My account was taken down because my art and body is explicit but it’s their loss ;)” I know for her this was an emotional loss due to her online community being taken away. This is perhaps something Instagram should take into consideration before the deletion of an account.
Jessica: How would you choose to exhibit your work without restrictions?
Slid: I've always worked multidisciplinary, sound, performance, video and clothing. I guess my ideal situation would be being able to do all of these things in one space to create emotive, disturbing shows.
Jessica: What were your thoughts on our collaborative shoot?
Slid: Apart from freezing — haha — it was super fun to dress up in gorgeous nothingness, be naked and climb a roof. I loved the whole naughty clown school girl feeling.
I was curious about what had drawn her to the bikini in the first place.
“I’ve always loved a bikini. In my mind growing up it was a symbol of female sex appeal and that was subconsciously what I want to feel for myself and now I can’t get enough of being naked in this pre-sexed body. I believe there is so much power in this as a trans body.”
Nora Ephron once said “Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire time I was twenty-six. If anyone is reading this, go right this minute, put on a bikini and don’t take it off until your thirty-four”. This piece of advice has always stayed with me but never worked into literal action. Collaborating with Slid reminded me of these words and the reality that we never really appreciate our bodies until it's too late.
Unafraid to flaunt a bit of skin, the way Slid dresses is a celebration of her body and it's powerful to see. On occasion, it has caused her to receive unwanted attention. However, her attitude to combat this is supreme: “I have a habit of dressing in an overtly sexual kind of way which you can imagine grabs the wrong attention, but it is what makes me feel sexy and empowered so fuck 'em”.
Prior to this shoot, it would never have occurred to me to wear a bikini during the colder months. I have led a bra-less existence since the mid-2000s (not a fan of underwiring). Bikini’s now seem like a suitable alternative. I’m inspired, ready to get my ‘bikini-on’ in the dead of winter and won’t be taking it off until I’m thirty-four.