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Gareth Pugh: Inverting Fashion Formulae

Dazed talks to Pugh about the making of the film that was presented at the beginning of Paris Fashion Week and behind the scenes images and video of the film.

The reaction to a film presentation replacing a fashion show could have been that of nonchalance. Afterall, fashion presented on film isn't anything new, but Gareth Pugh managed to stun an audience with a singular projection on a wall with a video that really was as effective if not more effective, than a traditional catwalk show. The focal point of the video were the silhouettes that Pugh had experimented with this season; shapes that incorporated more volume at the bottom and less at the top, and how they moved. Dazed Digital sat down with Gareth a few days later post-presentation at the grandly chic Owenscorp where he has been presenting to buyers to talk specifically about the film.

Dazed Digital: After seeing the film, I think the reasons for doing a film presentation are quite obvious - but how did the idea come to fruition?
Gareth Pugh: First and foremost was the fact I had just done this big menswear show in Paris four weeks before the women's show. At a time when everyone is worried about money, I didn't want to come over as being overly brash by doing two big shows.

DD: You were conscious that people might judge you?
GP: I didn't think it was the right kind of mood. It was my first menswear show and it needed to be like a proper show and it was important for me to do that. For the womenswear it was more about taking it down to a different sort level, trying to take away the shine or varnish of a show. It was much more about being realistic about things. With shows, it's sometimes nice to get away from something that I'm used to.

DD: The collection lends itself well to film and in a way, you couldn't have presented it in a better way.
GP: The clothes lend themselves, not to the catwalk but to something more visual. I like the idea of a video; you get to show them an essence of what you wanted to show them. The clothes have a certain volume which is captured very well on video.

DD: How did you collaborate with Ruth Hogben, the director?
GP: I had something very clear in my head about what I wanted to do. She wanted to film it all in black and I was worried because the clothes were all about the silhouette, so I wanted it to be a black silhouette against a white backdrop. It was weird actually as I had never thought of using a treadmill in the video with a girl walking and she suggested that idea. We were kind of thinking on the same level. With the video I didn't want to lose that movement of walking that you get in a show as it makes it a little bit more real. It's kind of a very organic thought process. I was very open to new ideas and it kind of went back and forth between me, Ruth and Simon (set designer) and Matthew with the music and Katie too. 

DD: Did your background in ballet come into play with the choreography at all?
GP: We really wanted to use someone who was a new face. Someone like Karlie Kloss and she did my last show and was really amazing. The problem with using a really young girl was that video is very different from catwalk and as the girl was coming from New York we didn't know beforehand what she could do. Natasha (Vojnovic) has done a lot of stuff with Nick Knight before and she's got a lot of videos behind her where she really demonstrates what she can do and we wanted someone who was very confident in front of the camera. New girls who are good on the catwalk aren't necessarily going to be good on video. As soon as you press record they might know what to do. Natasha is very intuitive about understanding the movements that go with the clothes. What I said to her was that the idea was to be something like a flamenco dancer.(nothing referencing the clothes). Something that is very feminine and chic in the way they hold themselves but still very hard Elegant and haughty - it's that hard feminity that Natasha really embodies.

DD: Did you feel like you had to make a particular statement with this collection as it's your sophomore presentation in Paris?
GP: It was me trying to do something different. I was getting very bored with doing very tight on the top and big on the top, that inverted triangle thing. So I just turned it on its head and did something that was very solid in the base. You're working with that different kind of volume that opens up a lot of different things that you hadn't work with. It was quite interesting as it's not really my kind of thing. It's using that different element but to make it look like something that I did. Rather than being quite aggressive, it's quite attractive in a way - a different kind of hardness.

DD: Finally, I guess the obvious question is what's next?
GP: Well first I'm going on holiday! We will know after next week, how well the sales have gone with the menswear and we will see whether we'll be doing another menswear show or not!

See stills from the film here.

A snippet of Natasha trying out the moves.

Ruth Hogben's Gareth Pugh A/W '09 film courtesy of SHOWstudio