Pugh has revisited and recoloured many of his previous garments, hence models clad in faceted leather prisms reminiscent of S/S 2007.
With its wealth of history, culture and Renaissance art, Is it possible to come to Florence and not be inspired? Certainly not when a designer is designer as febrile and talented as Gareth Pugh. The idea for his latest collection - created especially for Pitti Immagine and described by the designer as less of a pre-collection and more of a 'mood board' for A/W to come - came to him when he was first approached to show in Florence. A collection in and about Florence, inspired by the religious iconography and architecture of the city itself.
Pugh's venue was enviably atmospheric - the fourteenth-century Orsanmichele church became a giant video-screen for Pugh to project his latest collaboration with director Ruth Hogben. With her help, Pugh envisaged a baroque illusionistic ceiling come to life, allowing film to unfold across two vast screens spanning the vaulted ceiling of the chapel.
The collection itself echoed that subject matter, with Pugh's signature architectonic shapes and slipstream chiffons awash with Catholic hues of rich virgin blue and opulent gold. Those shapes felt familiar for a reason: Pugh has revisited and recoloured many of his previous garments, hence models clad in faceted leather prisms reminiscent of S/S 2007; faces and hand smothered in cones as with some of his early Fashion East experiments; and a re-imagining of the shredded evening gown and feather headpieces from S/S 2010, albeit this time gilded to the hilt. That one felt heavenly, but there were also touches of Pugh's darker sides - those geometrically-molested models felt like something out of Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, and a striking 'living frieze' of marble-white models as a closing vignette had an eery poignancy that lingered long after the film had finished.
It felt as if this film, and collection, moved the debate over catwalk versus big-screen up a notch. This was not only about a designer exploring new modes of presentation for his clothing. Pugh himself stated that the garments were designed with this film in mind: those panes of chiffon were designed to be seen billowing dramatically around his models rather than fluttering in the breeze as they walked. And at the same time, Hogben's film could not have existed without Pugh's garments - the two go hand in hand. The incredible spectacle of this show was testament to just how successful that creative synergy proved.