#SuzyLFW: Fashion as Theatre – and Film
Fashion shows are often viewed as art, especially by their creators, who hope to put their work out there as more than a brief impression of one season.
Back to back in one day at London Fashion Week, Gareth Pugh took over the city’s largest and most immersive cinema to show a bloody, gory and balletic movie to express the spirit of his collection (which appeared exclusively online as sleek pieces mostly in blood red).
The fact that animal rights activists screamed curses to incoming guests only added to the surreal experience of seeing Pugh’s body apparently losing its innards in a film concocted by photographer Nick Knight, choreographer Wayne McGregor, and other art collaborators.
Since the designer married his long-term partner after the screening – in a ceremony officiated by Knight – the event may have been more meaningful to him than the viewers.
Yet Pugh was trounced by a real-life fairy story that happened next at the historic London Palladium, a theatrical landmark where Judy Garland once performed.
American designer Michael Halpern – who had his debut in London last season with a glitter gulch of sparkly outfits – put on a full show, with a red-carpet runway and a digital backdrop of colours and shapes.
The show was an instant hit, at once sophisticated and innocent, not just with gowns to command attention, but also elegantly cut trouser suits or dresses with fans of pleats. The overall effect was of a Millennial’s vision of a 1970s disco party.
It is a given, proven in fashion history, that hard times bring out clothes to dazzle. The original Hollywood glamour came blonde head and high heels out of the Depression years. Halpern’s glitter spectacular included pretty, floral brocade, tiger prints and feathers shaped into a strapless dress. The designer didn’t need bosoms bared behind a whisper of spotted chiffon, but it all went with the dance-till-you-drop spirit.
At a dinner held in the Palladium by online retailer Matches, Michael Halpern, who brought along his father from New York, said he did not know quite what he would do next. Just carry on sparkling.
What to say about Gareth Pugh’s collection – or his film? The clothes shown online look bold, shapely, and powerful, with a glint of the Space Age. But since the essence of his work is about clothes in relation to a moving body, the film stills tell only half the story.
Knowing of the designer’s early dance training, the moving finale of the 25-minute film seemed the most relevant to fashion. The bloody beginning was a fantastic piece of cinematography that I might have preferred Pugh kept to himself. But sometimes, fairy stories just happen.