Gareth Pugh as Video-Maker, Dream Tester

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Published March 11, 2009

 

Last week, British designer Gareth Pugh presented one of the most directional collections of the Fall 2009 season. But this time, it wasn’t just his cyberpunk couture that turned heads. Equally unorthodox was Pugh’s choice of presentation: audiences experienced Pugh’s collection via video display. Lucky for us, Gareth Pugh gives Interview exclusive insight into the concepts and inspirations behind the execution of his Fall 2009 fashion film.

Directed by Ruth Hogben, Pugh’s 8 minute-long presentation film is an arresting bit of futurist noir cinema. with Serbian model Natasa Vojinovic’s as heroine. “I saw that the raw energy she brings would meld so successfully with my collection,” Pugh said of her. In the end Vojinovic became a collaborator, “her reaction to the clothing and the way she moved informed the way the film we produced looks.” Vojinovic’s intriguing ninja-like acrobatics have a more colorful flavor. “I love the way a flamenco dancer is both feminine and masculine, like a sort of hard femininity,” Pugh says. Her sinuous movements humanize Pugh’s sometimes out-of-this-world clothing, making them appear almost athletic.

Maybe it’s Pugh coming down to Earth; maybe it’s showing subtle market-ability amidst rumors of his negotiations with a certain other brand. Either way, Pugh is looking back to basics: “I wanted a very elemental touch,” he says of the stark, alien terrain that serves as the film’s backdrop. “Using wind was a big device throughout the film that worked perfectly with the clothes- like a weird Marilyn Monroe.” Pugh used smoke to blanket cover the floor during the presentation, and water and black ink as a background for the film. Rorschach shapes and ambient rustlings abound. For the accompanying score, Pugh turned to English composer Matthew Stone to WOWOW viewers. Stone recorded bamboo snapping, bird-wings flapping, and gurgling wateras well as sections from the soundtrack of the Shining.

While so many designers scaled down to presentations this season, Pugh’s motivation to abandon the catwalk was primarily aesthetic. The designer insists that film, not the runway, was the most appropriate forum for the collection, “The clothes really require a great deal of movement in this collection, which you would definitely lose in a straight catwalk show.” That said, the current fiscal climate could not be ignored: “With so much talk of money worries, and big designers pulling out of fashion week, I didn’t want to appear overly brash by presenting two big shows so close together.” And while Pugh admits that choosing film over the runway this season entailed “a big risk”, he stands by his decision:  “I felt it was important to still be listed as a show, anything else would have felt like an apology. I didn’t feel like it should be played down, and for the most part, I was very happy with how it turned out.”