gareth pugh wants to hijack your mind with his visceral anti-fashion film
i-D present the global exclusive of the trailer, ahead of the film’s premiere during London Fashion Week on Saturday.
Gareth Pugh likes to rip up the fashion week rule book. Known for his dramatic haute-goth designs, atmospheric catwalk shows and diverse casting, he is also an early adopter of new technologies and a pioneer of fashion film. This season, he's ditching the catwalk, but not for a presentation (the second most common format). Ever the showman, Gareth has booked out the largest screen in Europe, the BFI IMAX in Waterloo, for what is described as "his most ambitious film project to date".
Gareth made the film in collaboration with legendary fashion image-maker Nick Knight, a long-term collaborator, and the radical performance-sculptor Olivier de Sagazan, who he is working with for the very first time. Their film is inspired by the artistic concept of 'duende', a state of heightened emotion famously described by the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. The drama of the concept can clearly be felt in the very intense trailer, premiering here as a global exclusive today on i-D.
"The decision to make a film was based on the depth of feeling surrounding the project," Gareth tells i-D ahead of the IMAX screening during London Fashion Week on Saturday. "When people are at a show, they themselves are in a performative space -- camera phones are out, they're self conscious... But with a film, in the dark, if the images are strong enough you can circumvent the appreciative process and hijack the mind," he explains.
Gareth first discovered Olivier when the French artist performed with FKA Twigs during her Rooms event, part of the Veuve Clicquot 'Widows Series' a year ago. "It was mesmerising," Gareth says, "It felt so visceral and provocative, and really got under my skin". "It also felt really anti-fashion, so I knew it was something to investigate," he adds.
"Gareth deforms bodies, like me -- but with his tools, there is that element of science fiction," Olivier says of the parallels between their work. "He speaks of survival. We answer the same question -- only our tools, and weapons, diverge. I saw a while ago on Gareth's website the use of a Shakespeare quote: 'Tis the time's plague when madmen lead the blind'. That's exactly it. It's clear that Gareth and I are brothers of heart. With this project it's time finally to understand what we are: a machine that also has the incredible power to represent other worlds."
"Overall the film is a journey from torment to salvation," Nick Knight tells i-D, explaining, "We wanted to create a very emotional film that conveyed the power of Gareth's stunning collection". Considering the concept, he describes certain experiences in the making of the film as expressions of duende for him: "watching Olivier De Sagazan's performance, or seeing Gareth's amazing cage dress lit by lasers".
A pioneer of fashion film with his SHOWstudio website, Nick says of the medium, "Ultimately it can replace the catwalk". "Fashion shows are feeling unsustainable as a system for showcasing fashion," he explains. "Great fashion films can really provide an amazing vision of a collection where the designer has much more ability to really show off their collection in the way they want it to be seen. It can be more imaginative, more powerful and more expressive for the designer than simply asking models to walk round in a circle, or up and down a catwalk."
Gareth Pugh's spring/summer 18 film premieres at the BFI IMAX on Saturday 16 September during London Fashion Week.