Show Report: Gareth Pugh S/S 2011
“I follow my own heart and I hope if I am successful, film can be an alternative to showing clothes”
It was at the Parc de Bercy Sports Stadium, Paris that Gareth Pugh showcased his Spring/Summer 2011 collection. Although this time through the medium of film he invited the audience (watching on an almost IMAX scale screen) to share his vision of alienation, a pulsing techno soundtrack, and” very much to look forwards”, all directed by up and coming Fashion Film genius Ruth Hogan. Kristen McMenamy, who seems to have held onto her 90’s success (she heavily featured in Viktor and Rolf’s A/W 2010 presentation), brought the clothes very much to life and animated them in such a way, that a limp catwalk could never have done.
This season it seems even Gareth Pugh could not escape the trend of ‘Rebirth’, which featured heavily in designers such as Jil Sander, Alexander Wang, and Dolce and Gabbana who premiered very clean, some all-most all white collections, Jil Sander used clean white with YSL inspired bright bold prints, which is a high contrast from the minimalist black on black we saw last season. Alexander Wang gushed, “Did you notice something, there was no black. I was looking for something optimistic," he said, "something pure." Indeed, even Pugh who has a reputation for a gothic aesthetic explained to Vogue Italia “well the clothes, it was kind of for me, taking a U-turn from what I did last season, kind of looking back at what I did last season seems to be quite historical or you know quite old looking about it. So instead of looking back I decided very much to look forwards.” Therefore out of the shows 41 looks (from the Lookbook, released after the film was shown) the first 17 had a much lighter feel, using aluminium greys and off whites, which echoed the atmosphere of the trend.
Pugh heading towards these shades show he had mellowed from his infamous hard edge showstoppers, which sometimes clouded the public’s judgment of his garments and opened him up to criticism that his clothes weren’t wearable enough. Instead, Pugh seems too have hit the nail on the head, unleashing his creativity in a clever way, to make the Fashion Film the ‘show stopper’, with all the special effects and exaggerated movement of the clothes. This gives way to more saleable, accessible garments, such as Panta leggings, A-line cut on the square jackets that create handkerchief edges, leather vests, long smoking jackets, wide-leg cigarette pants etc while keeping his signature tailoring of a sharp A-line asymmetric silhouette.
The 11 minute film itself, mainly in monochrome highlights the theme of contrast using high exposure and concentrating on shadows, this is demonstrated when Kristen McMenamy is starring at the audience with an alien expression, stylist Katie Shillingford attached effects to the face to resemble the padded clothing. A light scans her, bringing her in and out of shadow, all consuming and realising. Pugh uses this to emphasise the silhouette as in one shot, it is all black with only white outlining the body and the insect-like movement of McHenamy in slow motion. This helps emphasises the clothes to their highest potential, at the beginning of the video, the model is poised legs wide apart as if waiting for her pray, while the camera is moving around her showing the creases in the wide-leg cigarette pants altering her silhouette.
As well as contrasts in the filming of the video, the textures of the garments are highly juxtaposed. The leggings and bodysuits of rubberised neoprene of intricate triangle scales resemble body armour of the Star Wars kind, which embody a Sporty trend. This compared with the fluidity of the chiffon capes and cardigans, which almost resembles smoke, relating to his first Fashion Film for A/W 2009 and a balloon, almost duvet like blow up dresses and capes. The pinnacle of this is McMenamy standing is a rubberised neoprene bodysuit, with a chiffon cape, coloured light shining up at her highlighting the scales and creating a ‘Superwoman’ image. The undeniable highlight to the video is the shot of McMenamy running in slow motion wearing an aluminium printed nylon full length smoking jacket (it is given its texture by cutting it finely, a technique that Pugh calls ‘modular’) which staggeringly looks like she is wearing liquid metal armour.
There is a real theme of Transition, growing and moving forward. The sequences that use repetitive dancing and walking to accentuate the all in one printed outfit, or the wideness of the cigarette pants and slowing transcending into an alternative outfit. All accompanying the music to perfection, with its robotic menacing tempo ,but also inherently human heartbeat quality and the immaculately timed breath before the tempo kicks in once again.
The film allows a view from below, enabling the audience to see the detail of the bold print in the lining of the sharp edged waistcoats and wide-leg almost ninja trousers. Although Pugh has stuck to his monochrome print, instead of the bright block colours seen at Jil Sander, Prada, Giles and Christopher Kane, this will also prove to be a big trend for next season, design house Balenciaga have embraced the hounds tooth style print at the forefront of their collection. The idea of the print is reflected in the special effects of the video; one can’t help but think of McQueen when a kaleidoscope pattern appears, for his S/S 2009/ 2010 collections. However, Pugh does bring it into his own and creates a web-like pattern in which McMenamy is a spider slowly stretching her legs, it takes some time for the viewers head to register.
Another trend that is apparent is Gareth Pugh’s S/S 2011 collection is surprisingly an Oriental theme as garments such as the rap-around trousers have a ninja- like influence, the long coats have a Kimono silhouette, the square layers of the trousers, and the covering of the face in a printed bodysuit. This could also been seen in fellow designer Rick Owens collection. The styling of the look-book also hinted towards this, with a high-tied oriental bun with strands of hair falling down, as well as long ponytails in the film, scraped back to extenuate the models face shape.
With Pugh transcending into wearable, glamorous but nevertheless intoxicating clothing, there is a high chance that this collection will prosper in stores. As it contains key trends with accessible pieces like leggings, chiffon capes, leather A-line jackets and ‘SHOWstudio’ already offering a printed scarf from the collection before its release.
Pugh has really raised the standard of Fashion Films instead of catwalk, and all in all it does serve as an engulfing medium to showcase a collection. Pugh commented, “It is liberating for a designer not to have to worry about a show. You can get the models to be even more expressive and do it all in a more concise way” but is this not then a biased way of putting your show together, does the special effects take over from the clothes, if the clothes are limp on the catwalk then doesn’t that mean they will be on the person wearing them, as not everyone wearing them will be running into a wind machine? Or does this mean that Pugh has found a unique way of expressing his creativity to his audience and showing the clothes that will be the future? It is likely that Pugh will continue to experiment in Fashion Film and to bewitch the audience, although he will probably go back to black for his A/W 2011 collection.