richard malone harks back to simpler times
As the uncertainty of Brexit looms large over this London Fashion Week, Irish designer Richard Malone uses the nostalgia of his childhood to return to a simpler time for autumn/winter 19.
Brexit is on Richard Malone’s mind. It’s on a lot of people’s minds, really, but definitely on Richard’s: an Irish immigrant, living and working in Britain today. While his latest show certainly wasn’t anything as crude as a “Brexit collection”, the looming March deadline has, at the very least, provided a starting point for him to work back from: retreating into his childhood and to a simpler, easier world of “badly-lit, uniquely charming community-centre gatherings, mums’ doors flung open for street parties,” as the show notes put it.
We say “retreating”, of course, because while this collection was as brimful of nostalgia as we’ve come to love and expect from Richard’s work -- “It’s always about elevating those things I grew up with,” he told us last year -- it wasn’t anything like a regression. On the contrary, the show and the clothes themselves felt as painstakingly well-crafted and well-thought out as they’ve ever been: from the dresses cut from exactly one metre of fabric (to prevent waste), to the Union Flag striped stoles made from repurposed dog beds (“For dogs,” as Richard helpfully explained to the assembled press backstage).
The use of those colours was about acknowledging the power that they have within Britain today. “We’re surrounded by them in pop culture, in the landscape of imagery now” he told us backstage. “With Brexit, and being an immigrant, those colours are always going to feel weird.”
Weird, yes, as the dressing of the set -- a sort of eerily, empty party scene, with the first look sent down the runway in complete silence -- would attest to. But there’s always so much fondness and feeling in what Richard does. “I love when you look back on pictures and everything seems so fun and exotic,” he says. “That kind of community centre. Having a party. Going between your aunts house, and washing up and seeing these clothes that were in your periphery.” A dose of nostalgia we could all use.