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Gareth Pugh vs Chrome Hearts

Collaborators Gareth Pugh and Chrome Hearts talk Cher and rewriting the rulebooks

For SS14, Pugh peeled back the codes of Hollywood glamour, revealing the hysteria beneath; feathers exploded over bias cut gowns; latex bodices gripped torsos; sloping shoulders rose majestically behind the head.

It is these darkly feminine silhouettes that Gareth Pugh, and his creative accomplice and partner Carson McColl, took to LA for their first collaborative meeting with Chrome Hearts, the husband and wife luxury brand duo. Richard and Laurie Lynn Stark stamp their rock n’ roll ideal on jewellery, leather pieces and everything in between. The result, Chrome Hearts + Gareth Pugh, is a melding of dark aesthetics, elevated beyond predetermined gothic terms. Ornate Chrome Hearts motifs creep across Pugh’s shadowy silhouettes as key SS14 pieces are reimagined: the latex bodice in solid silver and the feathered headdress affixed with a Horseguard-esque chain strap. For the hysterical Hollywood muse, black leather boots with a silver dagger heel.

Ahead of the collection’s installation in the Chrome Hearts Selfridges boutique, we caught Gareth Pugh and Laurie Lynn Stark in conversation.

Gareth Pugh: I’m a Virgo, so I’m a bit of a control freak. I don’t imagine a person when I’m designing. I don’t have a list of six day dresses, six evening wear…that’s bollocks. I don’t ever imagine the pieces other than in the show, I’m very protective over them. Once a show has finished, that’s kind of it. The samples go to press and you don’t have anything else to do with them. So for this collaboration it felt nice to be able to reimagine and re-contextualise the collection. It’s something that came about very last minute; it was your idea for us to go over to LA.

Laurie Lynn Stark: I was quite aggressive about it in the beginning, like, ‘I really want to work with you.’ Michele pushed it. [Michele Lamy, wife and muse of Rick Owens.] She was instrumental in dropping the little hints. Richard [Stark] wasn’t even in LA when you came, he was on a bike trip. Carson was so excited, he started jumping up and down.

Gareth Pugh: We stayed at your amazing house by the beach. It was nice to wake up by the sea. Where I’m from in Sunderland you can see the sea from my house, and it’s something I miss a lot in London. When we finally met Richard he gave us this mammoth tour of the Chrome Hearts factory. It took two days to get round.

Laurie Lynn Stark: Richard felt the energy between the two of us. It happened quite naturally; Richard came in and you just started working together, right?

Gareth Pugh: We took three looks from the SS14 collection to LA. Those hats in the show were supposed to be very Norma Desmond, hysterical femininity. But we changed the context completely by putting this chain under the chin.

“Sometimes you get distracted by other voices – and I’m not talking about the voices in my head! There are a lot of people saying a lot of crap.” – Gareth Pugh

I was very open when we went over. There’s always a definite hard edge to what I do, even though it may be quite feminine. So to give this militaristic edge to pieces from a show that had nothing to do with military…that was fun.

Laurie Lynn Stark: Cher would love this [collection.] She’s my kid’s godmother, and a big fan of yours. The first thing she would say is, ‘can you make that jacket to fit me? Because I have shoulders.’ They loved it in the [Chrome Hearts’s LA] factory. There was a liveliness. Even the bankers who passed through were like, ‘what is that!’ It’s been a labour of love, right? The shoes were a surprise, I never thought we’d do that.

Gareth Pugh: I don’t think I ever surprise myself. I would never think ‘I can’t do that’, without trying it first. There’s a lot of people who say, ‘Oh no you can’t do that.’ Which is exactly what they shouldn’t say. They’re just goading me to do it more.

Laurie Lynn Stark: I say in the factory all day long, ‘we don’t say I can’t!’ Can makes you surge on harder. For us it’s a big no no in the factory. It may cost you your job. I’m pretty extreme.

Gareth Pugh: I think the most important thing to take away from this for me and Carson is the way you and Richard work, doing things on your own terms. Sometimes you get distracted by other voices – and I’m not talking about the voices in my head! There are a lot of people saying a lot of crap. You need to have quite a good shit detector. You and Richard have that down.

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