The cotton-covered runway suddenly inflated into a billowing river, and out stepped a latex-masked creature in humongous Lucite platforms and a full-skirted checkerboard dress. He, she, it (gender soon ceased to matter) was followed by yet more outrageous figures, their completely covered bodies and faces sprouting 3-D geometrical protrusions. Each was wearing some kind of coat made in bristling patchworks of black-and-white vinyl, survival-blanket silver foil, or plastic blown up with air.
Welcome to the insane world of Gareth Pugh, a young man capable of distorting the human body almost beyond recognition. Get sucked in for a moment, and you can believe you're watching characters from some monstrous sci-fi computer animation coming to life before your eyes. On that leveli.e., the level of mind-altering theatricswhat Pugh's up to is very well done. He gets it partly from his background as a costume designer (at the precocious age of 14) for the English National Youth Theatre, and partly from London's extreme club scene.
Backstage, this strange creative force turns out to be a soft-spoken boy who says he was inspired by watching Ridley Scott's 1985 fantasy movie Legend, "where Princess Lili dances in a white room and becomes her darker self." Will there ever be clothes to wear here? Maybe one day. Rumors abound that Pugh may receive backing from that other dark-side designer, Rick Owens, with whom he once interned.