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a-cold-wall* lfwm london fashion week ss19 samuel ross
Backstage at A-COLD-WALL* SS19Photography Christina Fragkou

A-COLD-WALL*’s latest show was a visceral, immersive performance

Designer Samuel Ross stepped things up for the SS19 show

Samuel Ross’s label A-COLD-WALL* has gone from strength to strength the past few seasons. Not only have his designs been stepped up several levels on the runway, but he’s smashing it in terms of both sales and critical acclaim, having been a finalist for the prestigious LVMH Prize. After a couple of seasons showing at the BFC Space, he stepped away to host a runway in the industrial surrounds of the Old Truman Brewery, putting on his most artistic and most accomplished show to date. Here’s what went down.

PROTECTIVE GEAR WAS PROVIDED

On the way in the door, each guest was handed a protective plastic lab glasses, sets of ear plugs, and building-site style face masks – all emblazoned with the ACW logo – and advised to put them on. Cue selfies.

VIRGIL ABLOH WAS THERE

In neon green and a pair of his own Nike sneakers, Ross’s old mentor Virgil Abloh showed up to take his seat in the front row, fresh from his DJ set yesterday at Manchester’s Parklife festival. It was a gesture of support that showed the kinship between the two designers – both with non-traditional fashion backgrounds, and both making their own waves in the industry.

THE SHOW WAS INTERWOVEN WITH A PERFORMANCE

... in the form of a group of models dressed in dark grey hooded outfits and with their skin painted. They walked as a group through the space, signalling the start of the show, and reappearing throughout carrying wooden structures down the runway which models walked between. It all climaxed in a dramatic scene where a large square structure was pushed in, before the grey-clad figures began to smash down its walls. From within emerged a final person, who, bloodied and naked, freed himself. A-COLD-WALL* takes its name from ideas of the intersection of architecture and social class – this was clearly a metaphor for breaking down those barriers.

THE COLLECTION WAS A STEP UP

A-COLD-WALL* has recently taken on investment, allowing Ross to elevate things in terms of manufacturing and create the clothes in factories in Italy. It showed – the collection was more complex and technical than ever before, featuring trousers with pull cords and netted pockets which hung from the knees, nylon jackets with sleeves that could be removed with zips, and hybrid accessories which clipped armour-like around the body. Again, there was a sense of the industrial throughout – deconstructed pieces were held together with metallic wires, while thick PVC formed see-through layers and shiny silver fabric looked recalled insulation.

ROSS SAID HE WANTED TO TAKE RISKS...

... in order to get the message of his work across. “I wanted to move out of my comfort zone and become more of a real artist where I can take risks and to sacrifice what I already have to make sure there's a social story being told,” he said backstage. Indeed, this show felt like a significant expression of Ross’s vision and what he’s been working for so far – as well as gesturing to what’s still to come. After all, he’s only looking ahead: “I'm more interested in making clothes for the future than I am on focusing on where I've come from in the past.”