matty bovan faces the future with equal parts hope and fear
In a country paralysed over Brexit and on the precipice of climate crisis, the designer used his spring/summer 20 show to offer a glimpse into an uncertain future.
The models at Matty Bovan’s SS20 show came out wearing masks, distorting slithers of plastics, that warped their features, blew them up. The familiar was warped enough to make it feel odd, unusual. It was a way, Matty said after the show, of attempting something futuristic – “although the future has been so much and so well before” he said, he has been trying to find his own way into it.
“The collection was called Hope and Fear, because we're standing on a precipice. No one really knows what to think. On the one hand we're doing this show, we’re in London, we're being very creative, but round the corner, who knows, we could be in for some very dark times. I think as fashion designers, we're always looking to the future – even if it is only a year into the future. It's all about the future – no matter how near or how distant.”
The masks are a metaphor too, a reminder that we all rumble along in our own little bubbles. The future keeps coming but it feels increasingly hard to make any sense of it. But, this SS20 collection found some beauty among the bricolage of the past – there were nods to William Morris and Vanessa Bell and colour schemes inspired by Charleston, her house in Sussex. Which is exactly what you expect from a Matty Bovan show.
But there was plenty of newness here too – some looks reversed Matty’s usual, billowing, bottom heavy silhouettes, for dresses that enveloped the torso and the head. The opening looks were restrained, relatively, paired back explorations of uniform. There were references to hospitals, lifeboats and life jackets, flight jackets and compression suits and motocross trousers. It was quite commercial, stripped back, a collection of separate pieces that could be read individually, anchored by Matty’s explosive creativity and joy.
He shares a lot in common with William Morris – that kind of homely charm, that focus on beauty, that commercialism too. But like Morris, under all that prettiness, there’s something quite revolutionary underpinning it, maybe even a little optimistic too.
Photography Mitchell Sams.