“Can new subculture or fashion or art even exist any more?” This is the question that plagued the mind of Claire Barrow who, this season, eschewed the runway to create her own exhibition for AW16. Her line of questioning was triggered by the modern Instagram age; an era in which the most important events and movements in history are available at the swipe of a smartphone. Barrow’s creative musings resulted in a wildly eclectic collection which deliberately sought to blur the boundaries of art and fashion. Painted canvasses became capes and bustiers, worn by static models accompanied by their own gallery-style plaques.
A trio of art films were also created specifically for the exhibition, played on loop in their own curtained-off area. Filmed by Duke Brooks, Liv Fontaine and Alice Neale, the clips each come with their own brief narrative, forming an integral part of the exhibition experience. The intention was to create work which transcended fashion, so Barrow tapped Owen Pratt to work on immersive soundscapes for both the films and the show. Drawing on references ranging from Greek mythology to the poetry of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the three shorts are emblematic of Barrow’s chaotic yet coherent vision. Watch the films in their entirety below, and head here to read an in-depth exploration of Barrow’s “The Retro-Spective”.
The first film on display is by 13 year old filmmaker Duke Brooks. It documents Barrow painting onto two 15 metre long canvases from which the couture garments of her collection were cut.They were worked on by using the paint frames in the theatrical backdrop studios, Elms Lesters Painting Rooms in Soho. The project was commissioned by Nathaniel Lee-Jones of M.Goldstein Gallery, who will be exhibiting Barrow’s first solo art show in April 2016.
The second film is by artist Liv Fontaine, from Southampton entitled ‘Opulence, Violence and Loss’. In her own words; ‘Medusa loves her life beside the ocean and her ravishing looks bring her many suitors. But when she is raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple, the enraged goddess transforms Medusa’s beautiful hair into serpents and makes her face so terrifying that the mere sight of it turns onlookers to stone. Betrayed and violated, Medusa is left desolate.’
The third film shown on screen is by photographer Alice Neale which shows clothing from the collection in a film of chaos and calm, with Frank Lebon reading Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem ‘Kubla Khan’.