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The designer and creator of all things Global Rebels®, Christopher Wicks’ journey to the world of fashion began on the streets of his hometown – Manchester, England, “The Centre of the Universe” – in the early sixties.
Although he had always been artistic, the rise of the Beatles in his early teens changed everything and opened his eyes to the fashion world that could be. “These guys weren’t just wearing what their parents wore, like the rest of us. They were new; they were totally different. They had a look all to their own, they had the rock and roll…they had it all!”
But Wicks was never known to follow the pack, and his endless sketches of shirts, shoes, and guitars paid off in his early twenties when he landed his first full time position designing for Ian Keller, one of England’s largest gentlemen's shirt manufacturers.
Wicks’ career skyrocketed. In the late 1970s and with great fanfare, Hillingdon announced Wicks’ appointment as a designer and director. After making his mark on the Mirage and Barnaby ranges in the U.K., both Wicks and Hillingdon recognized that the U.K. could not contain Wicks’ talent. In 1984, the company sent him to conquer America.
Everything was big and bold in America at that time and, fortunately for Wicks, the country’s yearn for All Things British that had begun in the 1960s had yet to die, particularly when it came to fashion. With great success, Wicks brought the stripes, collar shapes, pearl buttons and French cuffs upon which he had made his mark in Britain to America.
As a resident of Southern California, Wicks also recognized the emerging fashion trends and potential brought on by the region’s active lifestyle and surfer culture and licensed leading Sportswear brands such as L.A. Gear, Ocean Pacific, Hang Ten, and Body Glove.
But rock and roll was Wicks’ true calling. From Elvis Presley’s look in the 50s, to 60s Mods, 70s Punks, 90s Grunge, and even through to today’s Hip-Hop, rock and roll, music, and fashion have always gone hand-in-hand, and Wicks was poised to lead the way.
In 2004, Wicks formed Defiance USA Inc. as his vehicle for designing and manufacturing rock star fashions, including all the clothing for the world renowned guitar company, Fender®; as well as Jimi Hendrix “The Experience”, A Clothing Collection; the John Lennon and Lennon/McCartney Collection; the Scott Weiland Collection; and what is now the jewel in his crown, Da Vinci, the original menswear collection since 1952.
In a short period of time, Wicks had created a true rock and roll fashion powerhouse.
The roots of rock and roll extended deep into Wicks, far beyond fashion. “Since my early childhood, I’ve been writing lyrics and poetry,” Wicks says. “The words just come to me. Something will trigger the flow – a dream, a face that it almost familiar, a fall off the step ladder – and the next thing you know I’m writing.”
A mutual friend introduced Wicks to Slaughter and The Dogs’ Mick Rossi at a Christmas party in 2009. Although the two had never met, they soon discovered that they had not only grown up blocks away from each other, but also shared a mutual passion for fellow Manchester musicians such as The Verve, Oasis and The Doves. One thing led to another, and soon the two were collaborating – with Wicks penning the lyrics and Rossi brining them to life.
Initial demos were played for friends, including The Cult’s Billy Duffy, Stone Temple Pilot’s Scott Weiland, and the Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones. Wicks recalls, “When we played it for Steve, his words were something like ‘that stuff’s fucking alright!’” With that, The Glorious was born.
The band’s first Album, Stories From A Fractured Youth, tells stories of childhood, rock and roll, and – of course – Manchester.
Wicks and Rossi sing and strum “Another Yesterday”, The Glorious’ melodic remembrance
of the day John Lennon was killed in 1981.
Cars, Ladies, and Legacies
“The shape, the beauty, the design…it’s the aesthetics of cars that I can’t seem to get enough of,” says Wicks. “Fashion and rock and roll go hand-in-hand, but the bigger picture is: style, design, and passion. Cars are a part of that picture.”
Wicks’ life-long love affair with cars began at eighteen with the purchase of a Jaguar Mark II 3.8. The car was an instant classic, the choice of sophisticated businessmen across Britain, and among Wicks’ all-time favorites. “If you watched the gangster movies of the late 60s, you’d see the Mark II 3.8 was the car of choice for both the police and the gangsters – it was that relevant to the times!”
Today, Wicks collection includes, among others, a Range Rover, Bentley Continental GT, Porsche 911 Turbo, Ferrari 575 Maranello, and the crown jewels of his collection, two Jaguar E-Types – a convertible and a hardtop.
The E-Type is recognized by aficionados around the world as one of the most beautiful cars of all times – Sports Car International magazine placed the E-Type at number one on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 1960s – but Wicks also likes it for other reasons: “Growing up, this car was part of my picture of success. I had nothing at the time, but I knew I was going somewhere. And when I arrived there, this would be the car I would be driving.”
Wicks and one of his E-Types in front of Global Rebels Inc. headquarters,
Los Angeles, CA.
But for Wicks, true love doesn’t come in the form of metal – whether “heavy” or “shaped” – but rather in his life-mate, Lena Hermansson. A formidable fashion talent and designer in her own right, having dressed rock and roll luminaries including Ozzy Osbourne and Alanis Morissette, among many others, Hermansson and Wicks met at the Regent Hotel in Hong Kong in 2003, immediately hit it off, and have been together ever since.
Together, Wicks and Hermansson have set a joint course not only in life but in fashion as well, with the day-to-day operations at Global Rebels Inc. “Between the two of us, Lena and I have spent a lot of time with rock stars in the world of fashion,” says Wicks. “With Global Rebels, we’re taking our experiences, lines, and designs straight to the customer. We have full creative control, which is tremendously liberating.”
Wicks’ marks on the industry include his legendary styles, designs, and his direct-to-customer approach. The world is taking notice:
In 2010, Wicks was recognized by the Fashion Industry Guild of Cedars Sinai Medical Center as their “Man of the Year”, an award that had previously been given to design luminaries such as Maurice Marciano of Guess and Dov Charney of American Apparel. Wicks was also invited to join the Board of Trustees for Otis College of Art and Design and was awarded the 2012 Creative Vision Award by Otis at a gala event on May 7, 2012.
Wicks discusses his career and life in this video
produced by Otis College of Art and Design to honor Wicks in 2012.
In the end, a great designer is simply one who can predict the future, seeing what’s worn by one today as worn by everybody tomorrow. And while Wicks has this ability in spades, he remains modest:
“Buddha says ‘You have no cause for anything but gratitude and joy.’ Given the opportunities in life I’ve been offered and the people in life I’m blessed to share it with, I couldn’t agree more.”