per gotesson explores masculinity, nostalgia and value
Broken royal wedding porcelain as jewellery and socks-as-shoes, as the south Sweden-born, north London based designer's diy approach continues to find treasure in the throwaway.
Photography Alin Kovacs
From his accomplished RCA MA collection through to his triumphant solo debut presentation inside Machine-A, Per Götesson has always subverted the familiar. Inspired by real-life function and needs, the designer's approach to fashion is rooted in enhancing everyday reality. "I like normal things, because they are more valid socially than wearing abstract sculptures," he explained in an interview with us last year. While developing on the talent incubator MAN, he created performative compositions that mixed sculpture with fashion instead of presenting his work on a regular catwalk. It enabled the viewer to take time over his world to discover his clothes craftsmanship and captivating construction.
For this first catwalk show there were fears that his subtle fashion poetics -- the pockets built into garments to hide bottles of wine, vests made from wired bottle tops, tiaras out of champagne corks and the sheer transformations of textiles -- could be lost on the runway.
Taking over the official BFC show space those concerns were quickly forgotten. Working with set designer Tony Hornecker once again, the pair brought a sense of intimacy and much-needed calm to the 180 Strand location as the designer added a sense of nostalgia to his sartorial explorations of masculinity.
“I’ve long been fascinated by the draping in Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, he explained backstage. “I’ve been aware of the painting since I was a child but was drawn back to it recently. I wanted to replicate the draping in the wife’s dress -- which represents wealth in the painting -- using the common fabrics that I love.” So Per played with denim to twist the art history symbolism. Cloth woven by his mother and grandmother was embellished with embroidery; this collection was stitched through with his own childhood. “Much of the collection explores my family, sparked by mum giving me the family dowry when I moved in with my partner.”
Beyond the nostalgia, Per refined his new vision of fashion utility, which saw bags morph into trench coats and developed his collaborations. While partner Husam El-Odeh crafted suspenders and jewellery from souvenir porcelain, reclaimed footwear designer Helen Kirkum both cut, pasted and manipulated sneakers in addition to collaging white socks into shoes fit for the outdoors. One man’s rubbish is Per’s (and his teams) treasure. “I enjoy working with limitations and trying to make seemingly shit things precious,” he explained backstage. “That’s the challenge but it’s natural to me.”
Among the reimagined brooches were fragments of royal wedding ceramics. Equally perfect for those of you who secretly love the royals but are too left wing to admit it and those of you who daydream about a republic.