Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Gareth Pugh celebrates 10 years and a return to London Fashion Week

11 February 2015

Today saw the opening of a retrospective display of Gareth Pugh at the Galleria Melissa in Covent Garden. Pugh's will be the first installation in the footwear brand's gallery space, which opened just last October. This year marks the designer's 10 year anniversary and the decision to exhibit at the Melissa spacious showrooms makes perfect sense since he collaborated with the eponymous Brazilian shoemaker a few years back. What is most exciting about this exhibit is that it happens in London. Pugh first showed at London Fashion Week in February 2005 and since then has collaborated with Nick Knight' Showstudio on numerous projects and subsequently with Knight’s former assistant Ruth Hogben, with whom they championed fashion film as a medium (his Paris shows in A/W 2009 and S/S 2011 were presented in the form of moving images which went viral and set a trend for the medium).

After many years of showing mainly in Paris and New York, he has just announced that this year he will be returning to London Fashion Week for a first time in 10 years. The somewhat nano display (containing just 9 outfits) at the Melissa Galleria is just a fraction of his most memorable designs, some of which were made popular by the likes of Kylie and Beyoncé.
It is refreshing to see that Mr Pugh has decided to show his new collection here in London, where he lives and works, it makes sense really, especially after such a long absence. Few would remember the first designs that propelled Pugh to his current status of avant-garde master. His first collection was largely influenced by the club kids culture and their typical love for oversized pieces, circular shapes and his use of balloons or plastics in various forms, exaggerating and distorting the body shape, not too dissimilar to Leigh Bowery's body of work. After a couple of Bowery-esque collections, Pugh took a more geometrical and monochromic approach to fashion and was able to shake off the early comparisons with Leigh.
I first met Gareth Pugh a few years ago when I was working on my book about the London Club-Kids scene. After a quick chat about the scene, I suggested that he write a short quote for the book because many of the new club kids were in awe with his work. He didn't decline right away, but having managed to divert from the scene and finally achieved the recognition he craved, it was obvious that he didn't want to be associated with that scene. In the weeks that followed our meeting my emails to him hit a rock and it was clear that he would not have his name put in the same sentence with the term Club Kid ever again...I beg to differ.  
  (Text and photography: O.Yordanov©2015)