Gareth Pugh need not fret about defending the medium of fashion film when together with his ongoing partnership with Ruth Hogben and his stable longstanding team, they rack up another film that played out better, dare say, than a traditional catwalk show. As word got out that the show would consist of a film presentation instead of a catwalk show, any murmurings of disappointment quickly turned to awe once the premiere was underway. The iconic Kristen McMenamy embodied this season's slick distillation of what we have to know Pugh for - optical prints, unexpected fabrics such as neoprene-backed jersey, rubbersied PVC and dramatic shapes - and with her own natural movement, jerked the film about in a pace that suited the sharpness of the collection. The textures and shapes of the clothes were impressively distorted and pushed to their limit with the help of McMenamy's extraordinary movement and verve in the film as well as Hogben's play with light. The trick was for the film to act as a conceptual piece in addition to showcasing the clothes as a running, fully visible lookbook and with both boxes filled, Pugh gets the upperhand in paving the way for fashion film as a conceivable alternative format to fashion shows.
Dazed Digital: It felt like you were distlling what you have built up over the seasons
Gareth Pugh: In hindsight, my last show was very historical so this time, I wanted to look forward a little and perhaps take the things I've played with over the years and really make it into a concise and powerful image.
Dazed Digital: What was the thinking behind choosing Kristen McMenamy to embody this collection in the film?
Gareth Pugh: Kristen's amazing - she's one of those people who love to perform. We were shooting for two days and a lot was invested in it and to have all the right people at the right time, we needed someone who can deliver. So that crossed a lot of people off the lists - we couldn't work with new girls who don't understand movement. Also, she's got an amazing inverted triangular body shape - she's tiny down (in the waist) and then she's got these masculine arms. I like the contrast between feminine and masculine and I love how she's visually contradictary.
DD: You also had a contrasting figure with a male ballet dancer.
Gareth Pugh: We wanted Kristen to be this powerful and monumental figure and he was almost like our Bambi figure - very feminine and graceful!
DD: You say that fashion film is often seen as a secondary medium - how do you see its progression into a possible medium that could replace a traditional catwalk show?
Gareth Pugh: There was a time when catwalk wasn't what it is today. It's changed so much from the 80s-90s and it has to evolve into something else. For me, this my proposal of how it could be intersting. We're launching this on SHOWstudio.com and it will be accessible worldwide and rather than just seeing stills from a show, they get to experience what everyone here got to see.
DD: You've really mastered the medium together with Ruth Hogben.
Gareth Pugh: Ruth is amazing and she really loves the clothes which is important. We have an open dialogue about things - it's a good team and I'm really happy with what we do together!
We also spoke to Ruth Hogben on her and Pugh's enduring partnership...
DD: What were you going for with this film with Gareth Pugh.
Ruth Hogben: It feels like we really know each other - this is the fifth film and we understand each other more. We also challenge each other more with every film. Kristen had such great energy. I just told her she should move how she feels in the clothes and that I needed her to consume it - she was great.
DD: How do you feel about the progression of designers turning to film as a medium?
Ruth Hogben: It depends on the designer and the clothes really. Gareth's perfect for the medium - the dramatics and the structure - his designs lend itself well to film. I just need to turn my camera on, have Kristen in them and it's a film. Gareth's clothes are so good, I don't need to put a huge amount of stuff on it afterwards because it's already there.
As part of the The Meet The Designers series, Dazed & Confused co-founder Jefferson Hack interviews Gareth Pugh on October 2 5pm (local time) at the Apple Store, Carrousel du Louvre 99 rue de Rivoli, 75001, Paris