On Monday 29 August 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, a tragedy which claimed 1,500 lives and obliterated a rich cultural and musical heritage that had always been integral to the city's identity.
Taking the traditional New Orleans funeral marching band as an artistic starting point, Aitor Throup's Autumn/Winter 2008 collection, The Funeral of New Orleans - Part One, tells the story of five musicians and their fight for survival in the wake of the devastation – a struggle in which they must protect both themselves and their instruments. His London Fashion Week show also featured this short film, a collaboration with Jez Tozer that communicates the functional and transformative features of each piece.
The collection is presented in the order of each instrument's size, beginning with the vocals then followed by the trumpet, the saxophone, the trombone, and lastly, the sousaphone. To accompany the procession, the music is layered, instrument-by-instrument, as each outfit is introduced. The jackets and shirts, based on the traditional designs worn by marching band musicians, only differ from each other in their construction. Cut in the precise pose of each musician playing his instrument, the garments will appear on life-size human sculptures.
The shoulders and neck area of each jacket incorporate organic-looking three-dimensional detachable pieces, which function as protection against the adverse weather conditions. These 'pieces' detach from the jacket and function as independent pieces through an intricate system of zips. The result is a three-dimensionally accurate rendition of each musician's instrument. This becomes a case/cover for the instrument, which can then be carried as a bag by the musician.
The zip is an integral and essential element in Throup's designs, acting both conceptually and functionally in the re-working of the traditional marching band uniform as well as allowing each outfit's transformation into its varied forms. The zips will feature in detail at essential parts of the film, illustrating their specific role in the transformations.