As the second day of London Fashion Week came to an end, revellers descended deep underneath an Islington venue to see what Gareth Pugh had created for AW17.
Having released a short teaser film earlier in the week, anticipation for the collection was high. As the eerie bangs and reverberations weaved amongst a stagnant layer of dust, the cavernous, concrete space felt distinctly apart from the world outside; with audiences both trapped and swaddled by the lack of light, and air.
In this setting, the designer looked to unambiguously comment on the state of world affairs. This was a rallying cry not only that ‘the pussy grabs back’ but that it grabs as the world hovers on the precipice of anarchy. Before this collection, Pugh had conducted something of a world tour that covered Moscow, Istanbul and Washington DC. While the influences may have been disparate, the final collection was deliberate and focused, distilled into an exquisitely tailored collection of iron greys and midnight blacks.
Woollen trousers were worn high and flared, with hems that dragged along the floor. Coats were fluted and long, necklines reared themselves to head height. Always with an eye towards the theatrical; voluminous furs and billowing sculptural pieces felt eerie not comic, emphasised by the black, bug-eyed contact lenses that rendered models partly blind, and the jangle from keys that swung loose on rings, idly swung by models along the way.
All this happened to a soundtrack that began with a sample from Mary Poppins and descended into incantations of Donald Trump’s ‘Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!’
The result was to offer a fitting vision of the present, with Pugh here operating at his most vital and urgent best.