Peter Dundas delivered a collection for Roberto Cavalli that was themed around the idea of pioneers and the 'pagan traveller.' The show venue was decked out as if it was a Moroccan souk, complete with lanterns and swathes of pinned fabrics.
One could have been mistaken in expecting 'travelling' to have felt exploratory, and 'pagan' to have felt grounded. But once the music started up, it was obvious that this was more a conquering, rather than a wandering. This show was fast, the energy confident and almost intoxicating enough to blind you into feeling this was a self assured collection. More imaginative research and a tone more in line with the world we live in would have assured us that this house isn't running out of road.
An imperialist take on 'exploration' is a path recently trod by the likes of Valentino and Erdem. Words such as 'noble' and 'Victorian' were used in the show notes; the colonial casting was mostly aristo-caucasian types, whilst the use of denim in the collection was highlighted as such that it almost felt radical. Frontier referencing, Navajo accessories and chinoiserie shawls – dovetailed with surely the fastest walk we have seen all season - felt a touch invasive. As America quakes at the possible arrival of Trump, many designers are responding with upbeat carefree collections, imbued with a bohemian playfulness. None of them were crazy enough to think that Native Indians was a go-to for accessory ideas.
The V&A’s Autumn exhibition 'You say you want a Revolution? Records and Rebels: 1966-70' features a three storey high film screen, showing incredible performances at Woodstock from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. The love for vintage and peacock styles, as worn by both of these performers, was an arch rejection of the modernist times they lived in – and spoke of a kind of 'doomed romance.' Peter Dundas bypassed the authenticity of this era and did a smash and grab of aesthetics instead - with yellow-lensed sunglasses, psychedelic swirled, panelled denim, apricot velvet flares, and hippy braids worn in the hair. Fashion is obsessed with an outré aesthetic at the moment. We live in mass-maximalist times. We don’t need things to feel doomed, but it’s great when things feel less canned. No amount of patch-working will make up for true modernity. The design technicians got a dedicated shout out in the show notes. They deserved it. It was the creative journey that was off the beaten track. Glamour is definitely the way to go for Peter Dundas, but glamour means magic. And magic runs out. We need cultural relevance too.