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Rory Parnell Mooney LC:M Menswear SS16
Rory Parnell SS16 moodboards and collectionPhotography Daisy Walker

How Russian art inspired gender neutral fashion

Rory Parnell Mooney talks showing his audience flashes of skin – and how his misfit youth influenced a Marilyn Manson soundtrack

Celebrated Irish Central Saint Martins graduate Rory Parnell Mooney’s SS16 collection at this season’s MAN show was as bold as ever. Models – both street cast and chosen from agency Tomorrow is Another Day – stomped out confidently to songs that referenced Mooney’s “angsty youth” –  Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar – and they bore far more skin than we are used to seeing on a runway. “We really wanted to reveal the body but also cover it up, reveal more than is normally seen,” he said backstage of the peekaboo cut-outs that revealed unexpected areas of flesh. “I very rarely see like a belly button or a nipple out on the street, you know?” These goth-tinged models were sometimes in little more than underwear, shoes and a thrown-on jumper. But it wasn’t overtly sexual – quite the opposite in most cases. The collection, and its styling, instead had a cockiness, an arrogance of youth, a sense of ease that comes with age, or as Mooney puts it backstage, “no teenage awkwardness.” 

The artist Kazimir Malevich and the Suprematist movement is where this collection all began, how deep did these references go?

Rory Parnell Mooney: The references are right there on the surface, Malevich is how this collection started and you can see it clearly: the geometric shapes and clean bonded lines are throughout. But it’s not just Malevich as an artist, it’s not just about using simple motifs, it’s also this dichotomy of what is revealed and what isn’t.

There seems to be many dualities in the collection, one main example being the textures and textiles used

Rory Parnell Mooney: Yes, there’s definitely a contrast between fabric in the collection – the raw edges, tailoring and then there’s the softness in the knit and jersey, it’s definitely a focus in this collection. We created a fabric that’s almost like white noise, as if your TV has just told you to fuck off! Trying to achieve this idea of protest.

“We really wanted to reveal the body but also cover it up, reveal more than is normally seen. I very rarely see like a belly button or a nipple out on the street, you know?” – Rory Parnell Mooney

A recurring theme for you is the volume of your pieces, again we saw swathes of fabric and elements exaggerated through use of excess fabric.. 

Rory Parnell Mooney: Exactly – this is why I always felt I needed a catwalk as my clothes need that movement, they’re designed for movement. In a presentation you don’t get the depth of the pieces or appreciate the volume, which is why I’ve been so lucky to show with MAN for a second time, as I love the way clothes move, which my pieces were made for.

You also used pleats again in a number of the looks. 

Rory Parnell Mooney: I really like pleats. These particular ones expand through the movement, and, as you know, I love movement. They appear flat when static, mixed with all these chaotic layers, and then with movement they change, become something else. Some of the garments are not feminised, but are, arguably, beacons of womenswear – a woven garment in the shape of a dress, but there is no real feminine element to what I’ve done. I’m not dressing men in womenswear. In a way you could say that I’m reappropriating symbols of womenswear. The ‘skirt’ has a long slit with a pocket for the man to place his hand in to turn it into something else and remove that feminine element.

Is it about ‘redefining’ the role of gender in fashion?

Rory Parnell Mooney: It's not really that I'm playing with gender. And I don’t want to sound like ‘gender does not exist’. I suppose its more celebrating the notion of the gender neutral, in a way. For me I have designed and put a male model in a dress because, well, quite honestly I would probably like to wear a dress, you know? It’s like, why not put a man in a dress? Not 'why?' but 'why not?' But less political than maybe it sounds. It’s actually a lot more base than that. Its actually bringing it right back to base level: I would love to walk around in a dress because its actually very comfortable, and easy to wear and its easier to move in. I want to wear it because it’s easy. Quite freeing. It's not always a political thing. 

Check out Parnell Mooney’s SS16 moodboards below: