Gareth Pugh: "We have to sell the dream before we can sell the clothes"


gareth pugh SS09/nicola formichetti

And so Gareth Pugh, the son of a Sunderland policeman, set sail from the Topshop-sponsored fashion hinterland of London Fashion Week - and stepped ashore in the City of Light.

The show was scheduled to take place at 5pm yesterday at the Palais de Tokyo. At time of filing few images have surfaced on even the complete Getty Images archive.

The only mainstream print story I can see so far is from the UK Telegraph. With two dedicated blogs covering SS09 – The Moment and On The Runway, which have not updated since Milan - frankly The New York Times is a disappointment.


gareth pugh SS09/rene habemacher via diane pernet

The blogosphere on the other hand is burning.

Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio has one shot and a brief collection outline.

Images, but no reviews, are also to be found on the blogs of Diane Pernet, backstage snapper Greg Kessler and Pugh’s stylist collaborator, Nicola Formichetti.

The Telegraph reports that the collection was inspired by Hamlet, Millais' Ophelia and Elizabeth I (with jewellery by Judy Blame and gloves by Simon Azoulay, according to a pre-show profile in WWD - the origin of the Pugh quote in this post's title ^).

I would have added Stormtroopers to the reference mix.


gareth pugh SS09/greg kessler

Elizabethan ruffs and articulated body armour are not new for Pugh, whose trademark sci-fi opera ensembles traditionally made for great editorial – and Kylie Minogue music clips – but rarely, the retail floor.

In the shots on Pernet's blog, you can see a hint of what SHOWstudio reports were some more commercially-nosed lightweight silk and wool dirndl-length coats, as well as ruffled silk chiffon blouses.

But the two-tone collection – whose garments were all, reportedly, white at the front and black from behind – did mark some new territory for Pugh.

For once, Pugh seemed to jettison the Gormenghastian grunge that so typified his brooding early collections – and step into the light.

As SHOWstudio reports:

“the fright-club make-up was gone, as were the jokey Tranny catwalk appearances, dodgy sex-shop shoes and occasional bodged seam. In their place was a coherent, cohesive and (dare we say it) commercial collection that still managed to make the hair on your neck stand to attention. Isn't that just what we come to Paris for?”

What prompted the Paris move?

A new business deal – and a cash windfall of almost a quarter of a million euros.

In June, Pugh won France’s 2008 ANDAM prize, which is supported by the French government and French luxury companies.

Earlier this week WWD reported that Pugh sells through 22 doors internationally, including Barneys New York and Colette in Paris and will be offering his first shoe for SS09 (presumably, the chunky white multi-strap platform seen in this show).

Most interesting of all – WWD also reported that in July, Pugh established the Hard and Shiny company, selling a 49percent stake to Michelle Lamy.

Lamy is the wife of Paris-based US designer Rick Owens, who has mentored Pugh for the past two years.

Hilary Alexander reports that the founder/director of ANDAM, Nathalie Dufour, described Pugh’s fashion arrival in Paris as “the most talked about since that of fellow-Brit, Alexander McQueen”.

Pugh is the latest 'avant-garde' Brit designer from blue collar origins to be welcomed into the bosom of the luxury goods mecca of Paris.

Pugh joins John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, the progeny of a plumber and a taxi driver respectively - both of whom have commercial connections with the world’s biggest luxury conglomerates, LVMH and Gucci Group.

Their collections, frockwriter wagers, would be dubbed 'unwearable' if they were to be shown in New York.



Click here
to see the complete SS09 collection on wwd.com.
My illicit backstage foray at Gareth Pugh's FW0708 show in London.
A chat with Rick Owens two weeks later in Paris.