gareth pugh's spring/summer 16 was a love letter to seedy soho
Gareth Pugh's army of drag queens take on the developers and gentrifiers.
Even showing in the heart of the fashion establishment — at the British Fashion Council's Brewer Street Car Park space — Gareth Pugh subverted the official line. While the BFC have lauded the Soho as a retail destination, Pugh's show celebrated those who are being pushed out by the developers, the very people who gave Soho it's soul: the freaks and queens whose mark on culture is more indelible that any chain store pushing yet another ton of cheap polyester.
"Rape, murder — it's just a shot away." Merry Clayton's powerful solo from The Rolling Stones' Gimme Shelter opened the show, and alludes to it's central message, "that the spirit of Soho is among us, and in need of urgent protection." And not just Soho, but east London too, where Pugh lives and works. "I have to leave my studio because they want to redevelop it, so it's quite autobiographical as a collection," he told us backstage.
Models march with ferocity, their faces covered by tights like bank robbers, but painted with exaggerated make up to resemble Divine, their hairlines receding far back into a plume of blonde. Legs and arms were covered in red or black latex and heels were sky high, the far-from-basic base for Pugh's chain mail mini dresses (made from "a million lucky pennies"), glittering ruby sequinned bodices, hot pants, flared pantsuits with enormous bows, trenches and shearling coats.
"Showing in Soho on a Saturday night, it's an amazing thing for me," Pugh told i-D backstage, "Drag queens and poppers and discos, it's kind of like a carnival that rolls into town and that's what fashion should be about."
Great Britain's prodigal son has returned (after showing in Paris for five years), a knight in glittering armor, but not to take his place, regal in the academy, but to stick up for the underdogs, for his roots and for the future of London fashion.
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans