Pugh's forays into film always feel so fulfilling and successful: because it is a world he's imagining, and is dragging his audience into.
For his latest show Gareth Pugh took over le Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, a gargantuan sports stadium on the outskirts of Paris and coincidentally the stage for Maison Martin Margiela's Spring 2007 collection. That collection was intended as a parody of the razzle-dazzle high-octane fashion show that commandeer such venues for their cast-of-thousands spectaculars, and its easy to see Pugh's latest offering as a counterpart to that ground-breaking Margiela show. For S/S 2011, Pugh choose to erect not a catwalk, but an enormous video screen, projecting a film of his latest collection to captive audience and simultaneously live across the Internet. Pugh, in his owns words, called film not a secondary medium but 'a modern alternative' to live catwalk events: certainly borne out by his brave and ambitious staging.
Enough about the medium - what was the message? Pugh teamed once more with Ruth Hogben, the filmmaker who created his first foray into fashion film for A/W 2009, but their offering - and the collection - was very much separate. Naturally enough - this was Pugh in spring mode, after all. Hence the shot of Pugh's opening outfit bathed the cavernous space in white to showcase angular tailoring reminiscent of cyborgs or Storm Troopers.
When Hogben was quizzed about her film, she simply said 'I wanted it to look modern' - and it certainly did that, projecting us into Pugh's futuristic vision of fetishistic mirrored crinolines and giant inflatable coats in mind-boggling graphic prints. That print was the part that felt the most new, echoed in the film by kaleidoscopic mirroring and intricate patterns fragmenting model Kristen McMenamy into parts of a giant op-art puzzle. And please note, that monochrome grid was not only splashed across those giant show-stopping Pugh puffer-coats, but slipstream chiffons and a neat all-in one (it probably won't wrap over the face and obscure all features in the shops, but we can always dream). The mirrored crinolines were also suitable spectacular, created from aluminium-coated nylon that retained its lightness with a slick, metallic shine.
The most beautiful moments in the film, however, were some of the most abstract: chiffon billowing like smoke, abstract mirrored surfaces glistening darkly, or the viewer being immersed in living pattern, the black and white graphics wrapping the entire screen and plunging the viewer headfirst into Pugh's world. And maybe that's why Pugh's forays into film always feel so fulfilling and successful: because it is a world he's imagining, and is dragging his audience into. Few designers would have the complexity, depth of vision and imagination to render that so successfully through moving image.