What do you miss most about pre-pandemic life? The answer, for many young people, is partying. With the new six person rule having been implemented by the British government last month, the prospect of clubs opening their doors has become an even more distant prospect. Fines for attending or organising illegal raves range from £100-10,000, a serious threat which has acted as a deterrent to an industry which keeps many financially and spiritually afloat. Despite social distancing rules, illegal raves have continued throughout the pandemic, occurring all over England in London, Manchester, Blackburn, Huddersfield and more locations.
But the future of raving is still somewhat bleak.‘The London squat party scene is in critical condition. It’s on a life support machine’ says Sinead Gorey, a designer from South East London. Last season, Gorey debuted her A/W 20 fashion film Artefact, something she called ‘a nostalgic feast for the soul.’
This season Gorey has channelled a bygone era of the London rave scene, premiering her S/S 21 fashion film Higher exclusively on SHOWstudio, made in collaboration with director Duncan Lewis and with sound design by David Jones. In explanation of the film’s title, Gorey says, ‘We wanted to elevate the viewer to a higher place whilst watching this film, with an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia.’
With characters modelled on muses Gorey met on the London rave scene from 2011-2014, Higher is a sundown-to-sunrise clubbing escapade with a neon palette reminiscent of the films of Gaspar Noé. ‘Noé’s films are dark and hard to make sense of, so I wanted to create a film that was super trippy and bugs your head a little,’ says Gorey.
Gorey describes her clothes as wearable for ‘26 hours of non-stop, hardcore stomping.’ How does one design garments with durability and specifically ‘raveability’ in mind? ‘I approach it by looking at functionality. For example, using waterproof nylon and breathable taffeta for the undersleeve to allow the wearer to sweat freely,’ says Gorey.
Following popular demand, Gorey has introduced unisex looks for the first time this season, so boys and girls can rest assured they won’t overheat on the dancefloor. ‘Some of these looks ended up being super tom-boyish, so I cast some boys,’ says Gorey.
In the absence of the chance encounters that clubbing brings about, Higher is an ode to the unity of raving, a celebration of the spaces where people with diverse backgrounds and belief systems are brought together under one roof. Commenting on the lack of nightlife thanks to COVID-19, Gorey says, ‘It’s going to be not just economically detrimental for the venues, but for people who need that weekend escape. It's super important that young people have safe spaces where they can go, express themselves and mingle with likeminded people, and of course this isn't possible at the moment. Things are moving back into the underground illegal stratosphere which can't be blamed on anyone but the government.’