Dazed Digital exclusively premieres Gareth Pugh’s film, 'Club Noveau', shot by Ruth Hogben for Selfridges' ‘The Film Project’, screened at The Old Selfridges Hotel. Here, Pugh’s long time collaborator Katie Shilingford reminisces with the designer about the story behind the film...
"It was in the Tooting Halls of residence that I first met Gareth about 10 years ago, while we were studying at college. A couple of years later a few of us were squatting and Gareth had a studio in a large disused gym in Peckham. We decided later that it was a bit too scary for us, but we hung out at the squat, which was a hub of creativity and fun. One of Gareth’s projects in this particular space consisted of filming himself dancing and lip syncing as Liza Minnelli in Cabaret borrowing a sequined halter-neck dress from me as his costume. He wore it with knee high socks to perform for one of the first !WOWOW! exhibition/parties.
At around the same time we visited Berlin, forcing our at the time, exhibitionism on somewhere new and exciting. One of the night time haunts that Gareth was particularly interested in going to was the infamous Kit Kat club as its name was taken from Cabaret, and supposedly set the scene for Liza’s chair dance. "I insisted we all go to the Kit Kat club even though we didn’t have a clue what to expect – it turned out to be some dodgy sex club with that leather clad dwarf being wheeled around on an office chair!"
All dressed up in Cabaret esque outfits with a slightly club kid twist, we definitely didn’t expect the scene that took place that night. Let’s not mention any of the gory details but maybe it’s important to point out that a tulle ball gown safety pinned into a mini-dress, fishnet suspenders and a full face of glitter make-up was extremely overdressed and I was called a prude! “I think the highlight was buying a Kit Kat chocolate bar from the vending machine at the Kit Kat club – which I think I still have somewhere.”
After many years of collaborating and pioneering fashion film together, Ruth Hogben shot Gareth’s famous ‘Liza chair dance’. It was important to shoot in a very different way to how Ruth had shot the collections in the past but at the same time to represent Gareth.
“The brief was to interpret your own idea of femininity. It was very open and up for interpretation and this was the first time the camera turned to me. Plus it was the first time we made a film without a girl. I felt it was a special honour being one of only two British designers to be asked to be part of the International Designer room so it had to be special. Cabaret is about showbiz – everything is all fine on the outside but there’s this subtext of the Nazis, killings and war which is transferable to many things. Including my situation. It’s like that swan image – a picture of elegance outside the water but peddling frantically beneath. It’s supposed to look effortless but often it’s pretending to perform. It’s smoke and mirrors”.
So much of Gareth’s inspiration is drawn from performance and dance so it makes perfect sense to create this film but perhaps people will be surprised to see the make over. To transform Gareth into Liza make-up artist Alex Box and hair stylist Martin Cullen applied the perfect shade of green eye-shadow and precisely cut wig, while I pulled together the Cabaret costume (he refused to wear the original sequin dress) and Simon Costin orchestrated the most glamorous flutter fetti drop we’ve ever seen. It was all filmed at the exclusive Arts Club on Dover street. It's essentially a small team of very good friends doing what we love best – transforming! Watch and enjoy!"
Selfridges' 'The Film Project' runs until March 25th, 2012 - more info HERE. The project is part of the opening celebrations for Selfridges' new Womens Designer Galleries, which is open to the public now