“This evening’s Gareth Pugh show presents an austere vision of a world on the precipice of anarchy,” announced the show notes laid out at Pugh’s 8pm presentation; set several levels underground in a space that was, according to the safety signs on the way out, barely more than a building site, certainly that is how it went down. Introduced with a spotlight (more air raid less opening night), the venue buzzed throughout with an intentionally messy assortment of noises: 28 samples were credited to create the glitchy soundtrack, employed amongst them were political speeches, church choirs, and tracks by Madonna and Patti Smith as well as Queen’s “Under Pressure” collaboration with David Bowie and a skit from Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream.
Cabaret x The Night Porter
Set in Berlin circa 1931 – a time when the city found itself living under the Weimar Republic and with an increasing Nazi presence – Bob Fosse’s Cabaret proved a key influence on Pugh’s latest outing, as the political parallels between Hitler’s Germany and Trump’s America set the mood for what unfolded. Elsewhere the designer returned to cinema referencing Piero Tosi’s costumes for The Night Porter, with hats, braces and XL sized trousers mixing with yeti fur, leather jackets and sheer tops, produced near exclusively in black.
A Bug’s Life
Not another film reference but an acknowledgement of the show’s two key features: bin liners and black eyes (the latter appearing to impersonate those of an insect, the former a common part time habitat). Utilising a fabric with the visual qualities of a bin bag, Pugh created pieces that appeared to smother the body and balloon away from it in equal measure, as if filled with airbags at moments. The eyes, the work of make-up artist Val Garland, saw models parade around with what can only be likened to the glasses one wears when entering a sun bed. Here they made for an IRL interpretation of the kind of technology used by FKA twigs and the like, both intriguing and frightening enough to make you pull a face on first sight.