WHEN GARETH PUGH WAS DECIDING WHETHER HE SHOULD ENROLL IN SCULPTURE OR FASHION AT CENTRAL SAINT MARTINS, HE CHOSE THE LATTER FOR WHICH HE FIGURED THAT THROUGH FASHION HE COULD COMBINE BOTH. AS A DESIGNER HE HAS SINCE CONSISTENTLY STRETCHED THE LIMITS OF THE CONVENTIONALLY WEARABLE THROUGH HIS THEATRICAL PERFORMANCES WITH AN APTLY TUNED FUTURISTIC VISION, SUBMERGED IN A TEXTURAL SEA OF BLACK.
After a ten year jump in showing his collection in Paris and New York, Gareth Pugh returned to his home ground to show his fall 2015 collection at London Fashion Week. His anniversary is unanimously united with Melissa, a Brazilian shoe brand collaboration to which a timely retrospective of his work has been launched at the brand’s Galeria Melissa flagship store in London’s Covent Garden. His London comeback merges his vision of the forgone runway convention in favour of stepping into the screen to present his collections through the vanguard vision of fashion films. Concentrated truly on creating an immersive virtual reality experience, the art of Gareth Pugh is best transcribed through his exploration of structural shapes and the art of performance through an incessant provocation between futurism, form, and theatrics.
Throughout his decade long brand development, defying the fashion show has been an element to Gareth Pugh’s art which has challenged his image making vision. Performance was running through his mind from a young age and at 14 he became part of the costume department of the national youth theatre. He cites himself to be a true Virgo, an utmost perfectionist who says that using fashion film instead of the runway has allowed him to have greater control over how the audience sees his designs. His view follows that fashion designers are not rudimentary defined by their designs, but rather by the images created through their work.
Akin to his own vision, his collaborations parlay a futuristic fantasy through which his fashion films come to life. His image making collaborator and filmmaker Ruth Hogben shares a vanguard approach to the stylistic images that synchronized Pugh’s radical expression from his very first collection. What infiltrates the screen most profoundly is the diaphanous impact that his clothes have on film in spite of their rigorous construction and futuristic ornamentation. Foil dresses, spiked laser cut raffia, leather trapped dysmorphic structures and elaborately chained headpieces weave in and out of Pugh’s collections. It is a digital approach to capturing clothes that stretches the limits of the imagination in a way that a conventional runway show can never capture.
His Spring/Summer 2015 collection was staged during New York Fashion Week in a colossal three part film projection set against LED screens with a live contemporary dance element that evoked the collection’s theme of British Folklore, rights and rituals. Directed by Ruth Hogben, the three part films titled. ‘Megalith, Chaos and Ascension’, followed a spectacular performance which merged the work of interaction artist Daniel Wurtzel who united his air sculptures to create a spectacular indoor tornado. The intrigue of Gareth Pugh’s vision is as much about the clothes as the immersive journey through which the clothes connect a play on multi-sensory emotions.
His Central Saint Martins graduation collection was inundated with praise. It was this beginning that established Pugh as a fashion sculptor. In tune with the importance of designing based on the things he knows, he referenced the fair grounds of his seaside hometown of Sunderland, England in an elaborately visual pattern play of garments assembled from giant red and white balloons.
The futuristic angle that he topples in his fashion films extend throughout his designs in a structural exploration, whereby he stays tuned to the three dimensional characters that his designs evoke. It is this vision that matches a futuristic avant-garde with a deep seeded allegiance to old world themes and luxury craftsmanship. He applies luxury furs and leathers to his designs, which extends from the support of his friends and mentors Rick Owens and Michele Lamy, a partnership which has granted Pugh’s creations the wings to fly beyond their threshold. Luxury furs and the highest quality leathers repeat themselves through Pugh’s production granted through the Owens’ established business infrastructure.
Futurism and elaborate cuts enamour the handmade quality that permeates Gareth Pugh’s collections. Delicate chiffon ribbons and mother of pearl appliqué adorn his tailored pieces. Linen jacquard calls in the British folk tradition, ‘Make do and mend’, which connected his comeback to London’s fall 2015 runway with armoured leather bonded warriors that marched to the spirit of, “sacrificing yourself to something bigger than you are”. It is this statement that boldly converges Gareth Pugh’s provocative image making. His tenth year has brought him back to London to reunite with the creative family ties from his early beginning. The future holds wide spanning boundaries through which Gareth Pugh’s designs will cast visions and forms that fashion has yet to see.
His sculptural designs and forward thinking fabrics mark him as one of fashion’s young avant-gardes. Beyond new shapes in design, his trademarked presentations take his audience on an immersive journey to connect clothes and the senses through performance.
He has chosen to challenge fashion show convention by forgoing the runway in favour of fashion film. Gareth Pugh has pushed the envelope with digital experience collaborating with fellow visionaries such as photographer Nick Knight and film director Ruth Hogben. Pairing film with immersive performance presentations, his style is distinct through the cutting proportions of his moving images.
He studies Art Foundation first at Sunderland College and then fashion design at Central Saint Martins.
Gareth Pugh joins forces with his friends to form a collective of artists, designers, writers and musicians. The group begins to organize parties and performances in an abandoned Victorian warehouses in London and Berlin, through which they coined a "distinctly odd harlequin-esque fashion style".
Gareth Pugh moves from Sunderland to London, a move which marks an important beginning for the launch of his brand.
His Central Saint Martins graduate collection makes the cover of Dazed and Confused Magazine, styled by Nicola Formichetti.
Gareth Pugh makes his London Fashion Week debut in February as part of Fashion East, an organization that provides mentoring and funding for emerging design talent.
Rick Owens’ partner and consultant Michelle Lamy becomes a backer to Gareth Pugh’s brand, support which marks the introduction of more luxurious fabrics like cashmere, leather and mink into his collections
Gareth Pugh presents his work at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s ‘Fashion in Motion’ showcase at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Gareth Pugh shows his first Spring/Summer show in Paris in January. In the same year he collaborates with filmmaker Ruth Hogben, set designer Simon Costin and stylist Katie Shillingford in a cinematic fashion film.
He makes his Italian debut at Pitti Imagine, where he collaborates with filmmaker Ruth Hogben in a special fashion film that merges religious iconography with elements of the Florentine ancient city. The fashion film was projected on the ceiling of a 14th century church. In the same year, Beyoncé wears a Gareth Pugh dress and shoes in her music video “Run the World (Girls)”.
Gareth Pugh returns to London to show his Fall 2015 collection at London Fashion Week. This season marks a return to his roots after multiple seasons of showing in New York and Paris.
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