Gareth Pugh is, in my opinion, one of the few current designers who seamlessly bridges the gap between fashion and art. Every collection that he has released refined his abilities as an design artist and improved the production value of his shows… and he just keeps getting better. This year, Gareth Pugh was almost unmatched in his showmanship, while his Fashion Week events in New York and Paris were stunning in their creative appeal.
On September 4th, at the very beginning of New York Fashion Week, Gareth Pugh staged “an immersive presentation,” a multimedia-infused spectacle complete with live dancers and an art presentation, all staged as an alternative to a conventional fashion show. It was an inspiring, breathtaking show and was literally one of those events that you had to experience in person to truly appreciate. Sadly, I think the photos from this show don’t effectively convey the artistry of the event, nor can you really appreciate the looks shown in these images- but happily, he staged a private showing in his Paris atelier on September 23rd.
In a way this worked out for the best, since the showing coincided with the autumn eqinox- the second day of the year during which day and night are of equal duration and was celebrated with rites signalling the end of summer and the coming winter. However, instead of concentrating on the death of the summer months Gareth Pugh’s vision was firmly focused on the rites of Spring.
Basically, it’s all about rebirth.
It’s also about his apparent shift in design aesthetic, since this is the first time that one of his collections has been so firmly rooted on planet Earth rather than in the stars. “I wanted it of the earth, rather than landed from a spaceship,” he stated, in tacit acknowledgment of the fact that his clothes often remind people of something extraterrestrial. The result is absolutely stunning.
Everything is exquisitely- painstakingly– constructed and Mr. Pugh’s attention to detail is positively astounding! There are gowns made of hand-ripped strips of silk chiffon, coats and blouses studded with mother-of pearl buttons, jackets and gowns hand-encrusted with strips of metallic appliqué. Some looks are constructed from layers of frayed silk strips and there’s a stunning blouse made completely out of lengths of silky rope. Burlap made a brief appearance in some eye-catching handkerchief – hemmed pieces, as did Mr. Pugh’s signature black and white geometric patterned silk.
The designer was able to fit in his trademark artistry into the showing- huge masks of papier-mâché in the shape of steer skulls, geometric silk masks, corn dolly hats and embellished leather chest pieces in the shape of pentagrams were stunning accessories. There was also a huge round circle covered with hand-ripped rags of chiffon (it’s a representation of the Padstow “Obby” Oss costume), a playsuit and mask covered with little chiffon flowers and a burlap scarecrow suit. Talk about wearable art!
The clothes command your attention from the very start and then leave you shaking your head in amazement. Granted, it still takes a strongly confident woman to wear these pieces, Mr. Pugh’s design has greatly developed from its theatrical beginnings, and has morphed into garments that can actually be worn rather than just studied and adored.
There’s a lot of black-tie fare and some serious red-carpet stunners, but throughout the collection I can see looks that will work in formal corporate settings, elegant day events and at weddings. There are even some gowns that would make absolutely stunning wedding dresses (especially those fabulous ripped chiffon gowns!) and some of the simpler pieces could easily be worn to cocktail parties.
Gareth Pugh’s collection is absolutely incredible, and I’m in love with almost every look. His showings always offer a break from the expected run-of-the-mill Fashion Week events and this year’s showing has gone beyond the already high standard that we’ve come to expect from the designer.
P.S., WHY IS GARETH PUGH NOT DESIGNING FOR THE HOUSE OF MC QUEEN??!? Look at all that edge! Sarah Burton, please please bring all of this back to your house.