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Richard Malone SS19 London Fashion Week
The juxtaposition of double-faced silks to reusable fabric Econyl represented the designer’s longstanding commitment to sustainabilityPhotography Cleo Glover

Richard Malone wants you in his clothes at this new exhibition

The designer wants to ‘fashion up’ a corporate corner of London with his immersive, avant-garde show ‘Rinse, Repeat’

“Doing an exhibition that the public are going to be part of is really exciting – you know, usually you’re restricted to people seeing your work through runway photos online, but with Rinse, Repeat they’ll actually get to get involved with clothing I’ve designed and interpret it in their own way. It’s going to be really interesting seeing the conversations that come from that.”

Richard Malone is talking about his latest exhibition, which opens at the NOW Gallery in Greenwich this week. Following in the footsteps of designers Molly Goddard and Fred Butler, and artist Camille Walala, Malone has taken over the space to present a totally immersive, hands-on experience that invites those who might not be familiar with his work – and those that are – to get up-close-and-personal with it.

Among the items of display are the Fashion East alum’s original sketches, toiles, and fabrics, all of which trace the journey from concept to creation, and open up the conversation between designer and onlooker, while outside, a specially commissioned film featuring London dance troupe Tribe will be projected onto the walls of the gallery 24 hours a day, seven days a week, meaning even those who don’t visit the exhibition will find themselves part of it. 

“I just wanted to fashion-up the city,” laughs Malone. “The exhibition is all about going crazy in response to the space it’s held in, and that, to me, includes the outside of the building. It will be a real break in the pace of life for those walking past, because the NOW Gallery is in such a weird, corporate area of London. I want to make it more joyful!” The film itself sees a series of dancers step into sculptural pieces created by the designer and move in response to them, sometimes with wild effect. “I really wanted to explore movement, and form, and the way in which people respond to different things. There’s no ‘right’ way to wear my work. I love that the film looks so out of place in its environment, but it’s very hypnotic. I think it will be really nice for people just to stand and take in.”

It’s not only the dancers projected onto the walls that will be wearing the clothes, though. Inside, some of the garments will be hung, ready and waiting, for those visiting the exhibition to try on. “Or if they don’t want to do that, they can just group them together to make their own sculptures,” says Malone. “I wanted to frame them in the gallery for people to come in and play around with, and construct them in a way I might not have thought of. It’s really open to interpretation.”    

“I just wanted to fashion-up the city! It will be a real break in the pace of life for those walking past, because the NOW Gallery is in such a weird, corporate area of London” – Richard Malone

Also on Malone’s mind when coming up with the concept for Rinse, Repeat was exploring and appreciating the craft that goes into fashion. “There’s a lot of talk about populism in politics, but populism is really prevalent in fashion too,” he explains. “Some of the biggest brands all come down to a logo that people can post and share, which makes them feel like they’re part of an exclusive club. This is the opposite of that, in that I’m taking it back to the processes, and the point in time at which it transitions from form to garment. I hope people will see that spontaneity and take a little time to reflect on it.”   

And although the designer hopes to spark conversation about the future of fashion and, of course, sustainability, working on it in the lead up to the launch has offered Malone some welcome respite as the already frenetic pace of fashion continues to pick up pace. “I think, for people who come to see it, it will just be a nice break from all the crazy shit that we have to deal with all day in London,” he surmises. “It’s very hard the further you get into a career like this to remain creative, and I am always conscious that the reason I got into fashion in the first place is so I could be experimental and creative and do whatever project I want. It’s really important to me to try to retain something for myself so I can really enjoy it. Which is exactly what I’ve done with Rinse, Repeat.”

Rinse, Repeat is open from November 28 - January 27 at NOW Gallery, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0SQ. Entry is free.