Gareth Pugh. His virtual world
The crazy prince of British fashion
Zippers and strings, feathers and furs, veiled faces and box-shaped heads, squint forelocks and army boots, gloomy pierrots and thorns in place of embroideries. Maze-like dresses, collars made of safety pins, blue lipstick, skirts that transform women into mantises or killer whales, Elizabethan-style elements, latex and high-tech details. The crazy prince of British fashion lands in
Florence with his cyber- Gothic style and his amazing video performances where all is created and all is lost within a black, floating image, with bodies cut in pieces and disjointed, asymmetrical hairstyles and Martian masks, liquefied clothing that fades
like ink in water. A new style for another fashion, modern fashion that makes use of multimedia technology and breaks the deadly boredom of traditional shows, starting a dispute that projects us into the future.
It is the Gareth Pugh effect, the star of the new cuttingedge designers that brings to Pitti Uomo and Pitti Woman his extreme concept of clothing, whether a vampire cloak or a delicate butterfly wing, with a determination that only self-made men possess. Just like Gareth, born in Sunderland, England, on August 31st 1981- his father a policeman, his mother a call center employee- and today in line for the artistic direction of famous fashion houses, his video-films being waited for in trepidation, touted as the successor to John Galliano and McQueen, but even to Vivienne Westwood and Roberto Capucci, despite his disrespectful use of materials and styles. Therefore, it is no surprise that Orsammichele, at the top, where the sky filters through the Renaissance walls offering the breathtaking view of Brunelleschi’s dome and Arnolfo’s tower, will be the setting of his show for this Pitti fair, and being the show a video, it can be left suspended in space and time. “I am honored to have been invited to Pitti Immagine- says Gareth, a pale complexion and a forelock dangling over his chin- and I’m happy to contribute to Pitti’s innovative approach to fashion. In Florence, I feel free to experiment ‘, with those fetish designs that attracted the attention of Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga and Beyoncé who sport Pugh’s leather and plastic armours and inflated clothing on stage and in private, like the extremists of elegance, the pioneers of impossible and, thus, highly desirable clothing.
Gareth, you attended the Central Saint Martins School in London, you worked side by side with famous and innovational colleagues. Who inspired you?
I admire fashion designers who do what they love to do. Nothing more than that.
You learned about Pitti Immagine three years ago in Milano: is it true that you had fun working as a bartender?
Yes, I met Lapo Cianchi and Raffaello Napoleone during a Boombox event, and we recreated, in the Tortona area, the atmosphere of East London clubs. So, dealing with bottles, glasses and shakers was the obvious thing to do… They kept an eye on you during your London and Paris shows and then convinced you to make your debut in Italy. Fashion is all over the world, it has no boundaries. And this time, it’s a digital fair, so very much in step with the young generation of creatives I belong to.
Can you tell us something about this Show Studio?
No, I would spoil the surprise.
The last film shown in Bercy in October replaced the traditional fashion show: are fashion shows dying?
Yes, I think we should move forward. There are many people who are still reluctant to accept changes, the fashion show format hasn’t changed much, so I think it’s time to give it a stir. This conservatism is really alarming: fashion means change, creativity, innovation, so I don’t really understand why everyone is surprised about my idea of an event-film.
Pop stars wear your creations. Is it fun to work with Minogue or Lady Gaga?
It’s tremendously liberating to design stage costumes. For these performers, I create outfits I would never have the chance to make. It’s a very interesting process.
What advice would you give someone interested in becoming a fashiondesigner?
I’d advise him to do something else, too much self-sacrifice. However, if he wishes to devote his whole life to his job, he can be a fashion designer. It’s a wonderful job but it takes up all your time. It’s difficult to work one’s way up. It takes Ì many sleepless nights and hard, hard work.
Your creations are impressive, nearly statuesque.
It’s true, probably because, as a student, I was uncertain as whether to become a fashion designer or a sculptor. Then I realized that, through fashion, I would have been able to do both.
You have a passion for dancing and for theatre costume design. Is that true?
I’ve been dancing since I was 8. At the age of 14, I lied about my age and I was admitted to an internship program
as costume designer at the English National Theatre. I’m sure both these experiences left a mark on me.