#SuzyLFW: Gareth Pugh – Hunkered in a Bunker

Hunkered down five stairways underground in what felt like a concrete bunker, the Gareth Pugh show seemed threatening, discomforting, scary – even before the models had marched through the arena in clothes as dark and frightening as their deep, black painted eyes.

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From start to shiver-making ending, when a woman acted deranged as she walked the circle on a stick, there were echoes of Hitler's war, Cabaret and a Gestapo suggestion as models of almost indeterminate gender dangled prison-like keys from one hand. To bring the aggressive spirit right up to date, a voice over chanted Build that wall suggesting President Trump's world.

Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

Indigital

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Backstage, the designer was passionate about the need for fashion as his medium of expression, saying: “I think it's a necessary mirror to hold up to what's going on. The clothes aren’t scary-mad, but I think the situation we’re in provokes a certain amount of severity. The whole collage of sounds is violence,” he said referring to the show’s soundtrack.

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Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

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Strong words – and a powerful show, but not so different from the precise, stark and dramatic shows the designer has delivered before. He is an exceptionally fine tailor and in this collection he focused on geometric squares and circles where the darkness of a flat, tailored trouser suit or the sheen of a leather trench coat told his story in black – and more black. When black plastic came into the sombre picture – as coat sleeves, boots or ballooning, puffed up coats – the show became almost too theatrical. The sobriety of the main part of the show was the most chilling.

Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

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It is not new for Pugh to treat a woman's body as if it were in a cage, but this show did not feel in any way sexist – more a theatrical vision of the designer's genuine angst and an urge to express it through his medium: clothes. Removed from the context of army caps and arm bands, there were elegant pieces, like a cape flowing down the body from its hood or the dusty grey fake furs.

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Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

Indigital

Above all, however discomforting, you knew instinctively that this show came from a deep feeling and a desire to express it.

Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

Gareth Pugh Autumn/Winter 2017

Indigital

“It's about fight or flight,” he explained in the show notes. “The cultural pendulum has swung to the right. The veil has been lifted. As a designer, how do you deal with that? It's like that moment in Cabaret ‘In here life is beautiful!’ as outside the world burns. Do you look it in the eye, or do you look away? That's the critical question. It defines who you are.”

Vogue

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