Gareth Pugh’s first show in London since 2008 was a triumphant return in latex.
So now you’re back
Brewer Street car park was buzzing with anticipation for Gareth Pugh’s return. The pop provocateur has been showing in Paris since 2008 honing the skills he was first taught at CSM, as he told Reba Maybury in our 10th birthday issue: “I think what Paris gave the work was that level of finish, of polish – not only in the work, but in the show itself, because we did some pretty ramshackle things in London. It’s sometimes fun to cobble things together and for it to look perfect. It’s a little bit like that analogy of a swan looking very pristine and elegant, but with the little feet flapping underneath the water which no-one ever sees. That all used to go on behind-the-scenes, but I think what we tried to present in London was always the essence of what you worked towards. Paris just helped refine that presentation skill.” Refined it was with every piece finished to perfection, no loose ends, no unravelling hems, but the ramshackle London element was still there. The show was delayed by half an hour, most of the front row didn’t arrive until seconds before and a model stepped out onto the runway moments too early to be met with 20 screams to scurry back inside. We just gave Pugh the welcome home he would have expected.
Spend a penny
The most obvious motif was the currency. Pennies lined the runway floor while every model surely prayed they wouldn’t skid on any in their skyscraper heels. Copper coins adorned dresses, corsets and shorts in what could be interpreted as a tongue-in-cheek joke. A rough estimation calculated that if you scraped up every coin from the floor, you might just be able to afford a full look. Dress, shoes, latex legwear, glasses and jacket totting up to £5k, surely minimum? That’s before you add on the value of coins stitched on, by the end of the show the last model was swaying from side to side with the weight of her outfit. You’d need a lot of those little plastic moneybags to take to the post office.
Run away with the circus
A nod to the vibrant characters of (sadly dying) Soho where the show was held, the clothes themselves were dramatically sexy but the styling of the models was an antidote, saving Pugh from slipping into the fashion week schedule as just another name. Painfully tight latex covered legs and faces were shielded by mesh with painted on makeup. Hair was replaced by electrocuted wigs and multi-tonal eyewear completed the vision. It was clownlike in appearance, loud, confusing, colourful but ultimately feminine, Pugh reminded us all why Soho’s sudden demise is all the more heartbreaking in just ten minutes.
Words: Lily Walker