English fashion designer Gareth Pugh revealed his Spring Summer 2017 Womenswear collection last Saturday during the ongoing London Fashion Week. The collection was inspired by the symbol of the sun and duality that it represents – the source of the life and warmth but also the source of explosions and destruction.
“The show opens with a black sun – a hole, a void – is in part a reference to the impotent fury of Francis Bacon’s Pope Innocent X, his gaping mouth described by the designer as “the ultimate symbol of insatiable hunger and consumption,” his ecclesiastical vestments largely responsible for the shock of purple that surfaces elsewhere in the collection.
This opening look clearly plays to the performative aspect of power, which is a theme that runs throughout the entire first movement, most pointedly via a series of garments seemingly decorated in a form of gold bullion. Look closer and what first appears as an opulent display of wealth is in fact a mosaic design based upon the chaos symbol.
As the story unfolds, this gilded rigour is shattered – quite literally – as regal silhouettes gradually give way to a relaxed earthy ease, and a cast of square-shouldered bureaucrats are overrun by a shit-kicking phalanx, draped in solar strobe. Signifying a return to the source, the sunburst motif – intended by Pugh to represent fertility, mysticism and a sense of renewal – is, in the designer’s own words, “a ray of light emerging from the darkness.””