Interview with IMMA MESS
What a beautiful mess she is! the visually decadent performer, model, DANCER, club queen TURNED DIRECTOR Imma Mess gets up close!
‘One Creates Oneself.’ – Grace Jones
It was only a few years back IMMA MESS swapped the big apple for the big smoke. Now a firm fixture on the London scene her intoxicating performances, bold theatrics, and limitless skill have not only made her a coveted one to watch but have shaken up the London stages, art schools, and the club scene as we know it!
Whether in a packed out club or behind the lens IMMA has a long list of lovers, admirers and fans of her work. All excitedly waiting to see just what act or look she might debut next.
I was lucky to steal her from the spotlight for a few minutes to find out a little bit more about just how IMMA MESS was born…
TK: Who is IMMA MESS?
IMMA MESS: IMMA is a manifestation of my imagination that uses childhood memories to manipulate the present. Using costume and makeup and dance as a gateway, IMMA is able to become a tangible physical form; me.
You left New York to come to London. Why London?
I left NYC for London for education. I was accepted to Central Martins MA Program. I study there within the art department where I generally focus on performance.
You have just recently completed a very prestigious shoot for SHOWstudio with Nick Knight for W Magazine. You’ve also been the face of countless other campaigns. When did you start becoming involved in fashion?
I don’t think I ever knew the difference or a way to be “involved”. I have drawn clothing and woman in them, every since I can remember. I always imagined myself being a part of something that would give me the space to be who I am and express myself freely. So I think I have somehow always been involved, it’s only now that I am older and people have opened their minds that they are starting to take notice. I’ve always just wanted to be known as someone that can legitimately contribute to a creative space.
Do you have a favourite or most memorable shoot?
My favourite shoot to date would have to be the one I just finished with Nick Knight. It was absolutely a dream come true. I had followed SHOWstudio since the beginning of my high school years (i.e when Ruth Hogban was there and did the 1st fashion film for Gareth Pugh). Nick Knight is so brilliant in how he reads a person. I never felt TOLD or PUSHED into anything. It was fluid and the images really showcase that easy relationship.
You’re well known for your incredible make up and costumes. In the SHOWstudio shoot for instance you did all your own make-up and even made your own headpieces. Do you design a lot of your costumes?
Thanks. Yes, makeup wise I have grown into it. It’s taken time and to get here and incredible patience! I rarely allow others to do my makeup, especially if the shoot is fantasy or something boarding on the other. Its tricky, because even for hugely creative makeup like that, there are certain aesthetic choices that I like and can be easily over done. So, I end up creating the majority of my own looks and makeup. Not that Im not open to working with others. Its just that my face/body is like my sketchbook.
But your not only a exquisitely mesmerising face, your also a completely evocative performer and trained dancer! In the past you danced with the very prestigious Alvin Ailey in New York and the Atlanta Ballet. How did your dance career begin? How has your dance career changed?
Wow, so you’ve looked me up!…My eyes always kinda pop out when people acknowledge my ballet days. My training started in Montgomery, Alabama as a gymnast and my coach persuaded me with a giant trophy to enter a dance competition. From there it snowballed, and before I knew it I was in a proper training school for dance, auditioning for companies.
You perform at several of the cities most popular clubs and avant gardé nights. Tell me about your London performances? Is there a particular one that has stood out? Been the most shocking?
My performances go as far as the budget (if theres one! ) and the venue will allow. I’m always wanting to change and evolve and I become bored of myself quit easily. So I am constantly thinking of how to do something, then undo it, in order to do it all over again. I don’t think I’ve yet to have the budget to go as far as I would like too, but I can say that this year has supplied me with so many special moments of clarity whilst on stage.
There has been such a huge boom in the last few years with the rise of voguing, balls, battles and dancers around the city. Do you think London can keep up with the original New York scene?
I don’t think its about keeping up, but about acknowledging what’s here and now. London has so much to offer but I found it can sometimes become too consumed with replicating what’s come before. However, there are people really bringing history and opening this space; people such as Benjamin Milan. Look him up!
What’s your favourite place to go in London to get inspired? To relax? To be wild?
To be honest, I have yet to find a favourite place to relax besides being in bed watching Netflix and eating way too much McDonalds! haha I love it!!!!
You have a lot of tattoos! What was your first one? What’s our next?
Yes, I do! I want more. My first one is a cherub holding a flaming heart behind my left ear. My next, probably more script on my skull or my hands.
Lastly what can we expect from IMMA MESS next?
I’m headed to NYC and Paris for a short stay but your guess is as good as mine. I schedule my life around how the work comes in and go from there. I’ll keep my eyes out if you do. x
catch IMMA MESS most weeks at THE BOX
Or Follow her & stay tuned about upcoming shows
on instagram at @IMMA/MESS
Words by Tracy Kawalik and IMMA MESS
Photos Credited Above and via IMMA MESS