Brave New World: Designer Gareth Pugh Enters a New Dawn for AW18

Brave New World: Designer Gareth Pugh Enters a New Dawn for AW18

In an exclusive interview with V, Gareth Pugh discusses his FW18 collection and the future of fashion.

In an exclusive interview with V, Gareth Pugh discusses his FW18 collection and the future of fashion.

Text: Danielle Combs

The driven designers who enter the fashion arena, are at their core, artists who seek to reinterpret and dismantle archaic fashion standards that have been set in place. British designer, Gareth Pugh, aims to banish these preconceived notions of  what women should wear with his defying designs that shattered the traditional attire of yesteryear.

When Pugh unveiled his AW18 collection during London Fashion Week, onlookers and Pugh himself were pleasantly surprised to see a collection that celebrated women, their strength, and it was also a testament to Pugh’s ability to transform technical, dramatic, and luxurious fabrics into one wholly new look.

Describe why you decided to coin your AW18 collection “for women who accept zero bullshit”?

That was something that was obviously written in the press release, but I do think it’s something that we’ve always done. It’s the type of women who we’ve always designed for. It’s always a woman we have in mind and I guess this is just another incarnation of that.

Considering the political climate and with the ongoing women’s movement, how do you envision the modern, uninhibited woman dressing?

I mean for me I think it comes down to choice. I believe it’s super important that women feel able and free to choose what’s right for them, and kind of, whatever feels empowering for them, for a woman personally. It’s about dressing for yourself and doing it with confidence.

How did referencing Michael Landy’s film Break Down influence or help you build your collection?

I remember that performance and I think it was the first year I moved to London and this is such a seminal statement I guess. But, for me it’s very much about clearing the decks and really going back to basics. It quite a stark thing to do, sort of this idea of no going back, a leap of faith I guess. So in that sense it was about me remembering the reasons why I started to do this. There’s a lot of noise around you as a designer. There's a lot of people having lots of opinions. I think it’s important to try to zone all that noise out and really concentrate on what it is that you think is important. I think that was why Michael Landy had such an integral role for this season.

What was your creative process like overall when devising this collection?

Normally we always start with fabrics, it’s an important part of the process for me and then from there things start. Generally speaking, I also like to keep things quite open and when the design process is ongoing, I like allowing myself a certain freedom to interact with things and allow the collection to materialize.

I guess it’s just important to let go, especially this season. It started off in quite an abstract manner; it wasn’t necessarily about doing a collection based on something so specific. It was about trying to create something out of nothing. Yeah, I think keeping things open and allowing other people’s opinions to come through is important. Every time we do a show, especially doing a live show, you have a lot of time to consider how you want things to go. Obviously with a live show you have to roll with the punches a little bit. So yeah, it’s just about keeping things open and keeping in mind the sort of end goal of what you want to achieve.

What does the “demolition silhouette” signify or mean? And how does that apply to redefining a woman’s dress code?

When we were formulating the show, we like to work with a lot of opposites especially in what I do. Whether that’s masculine-feminine, black and white, good and bad, it’s a lot of opposites that go through what I do. The idea of doing something that looks very structured and sharp and precise on top, and then dissecting it into this chaotic mess in the bottom, was something that was quite intriguing for me. Kind of turning the idea of a silhouette and making the actual silhouette into something was the whole idea of the collection.

To be fair, what it represents something for me, it's not necessarily about trying to redefine anything, the intention is more about a suggestion, it's about what if rather than having something that is a fully formed idea. We’re very much here to offer suggestions rather than to kind of dictate.

How do you think your collection as a whole embodied or referenced the art of demolition?

Just basically starting the whole process with the idea of stripping away all of the things that as a designer you can get very caught up in people’s idea of who you are and what you do as a designer. People’s kind of preconceived notion of your work, and I think there's two ways you can go about doing it. You can either go against that and try to do something totally different or you can try to consolidate into this idea that you been building up for quite some time. Which is what we tried to do this season rather than turning our back on something, it was very much about consolidation.

So this idea of stripping everything away, this idea of knocking everything down to it’s core essentially, and then trying to work with those bones to create something new. For me the idea of knocking down and starting again is something that runs through the collection.

How did you seek to reinterpret the futuristic woman?

Well for me, the show’s always about image making, and rather than trying to describe a certain view of what a modern women should look like, again, it's very much about a proposition or invitation to be part of this world that we create by the show. So yeah, we don’t really want to think about the idea of reinterpreting and redefining anything but I like to think of it more of a suggestion than anything else.

Were there any specific looks that you were particularly proud of or were your favorite looks?

For a long time I’ve wanted to try and do something that feels a little tongue and cheek or a little different from what we normally do, and using this kind of garish leopard print, especially to open the collection, felt quite fun. It was certainly something that put a smile on my face. So that idea of doing something that feels odd is very much part of a world—that we already inhabit—but it’s something that we’ve never done before. So it felt quite fresh and quite fun for us.

Could you walk me through some of the fabrics you decided to incorporate? I noticed some of them aren’t necessarily the typical or average fabrics you would see in a runway collection.

We worked last season with a fabric which we had in red, it was this super beautiful liquid-mirror metallic fabric. We hassled the fabric supplier a lot to get it in black. It’s actually quite a difficult thing to realize, but actually with a little persistence we were able to do that and PVC is something we’ve worked with. But to work with something that was almost like a black mirror was nice.

We also worked with some fabrics we’ve used before; it’s actually a plastic that's made for shop signs or store signage plastic. It’s a very thick fabric that were able to cut with a pair of scissors and work with a drill. It’s very machine made, has a perfect finish to it, which is something that appeals to everyone.

The plastic mixed with this more chaotic—I guess—black mirror kind of worked very well because they’re very similar fabrics but, they’re also very different. One looks very messed up and one looks very perfect. We also used that very hard plastic in an electric blue—it’s kind of a similar process on how to decorate a car. We just wanted to do these things that looked almost machine made.

I guess it goes back to a conversation I had last year with Andrew Bolton from the MET when he was quite intrigued that at the studio we made things, we don’t really do anything with a machine. I know Iris Van Herpen incorporates technology and 3D printing into her designs and all these kinds of [techniques], which are super beautiful, but it’s something that we don’t really have access to and we like to make things with our hands but, we also like to make things that look like they were made by a machine. So it’s kind of  this duality within in that which I think is quite interesting, it’s very hand crafted and sci-fi in a way.

Absolutely, and you know aside from the phrase “women who accept zero bullshit”, in your own words, what would you say the overall meaning and message was behind your collection?

I try to let the clothes do the talking. We’re here to dress a very particular kind of women, and it’s a particular kind of women that like I’ve said we've always had in mind, so I guess it’s just, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel with the collection, we were trying to push things forward for what we do.

I guess just propose something that feels fresh and feels empowering and I work with some incredibly strong woman to put the show together. For me, that can be quite monotone, if you don’t include these voices and opinions of some incredibly strong, powerful women. I like to surround myself with these kind of girls and this is certainly a collection where that felt important. So, yeah I’m hoping that we did a good job.

Click through the slideshow to see Gareth Pugh's AW18 collection and watch the film here.


Credits: Images courtesy of Gareth Pugh


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