Backstage, after a show that emphasized a diaphanous, romantic mood, Gareth Pugh admitted he'd been nervous about moving so far away from the hard-edged, super-structured looks that earned him his rung on the fashion ladder. Well, his nerves were needless, because this collection marked a very necessary widening of Pugh's fashion vocabulary.
If, once upon a time (the fairy-tale connotations are unavoidable), a Pugh show was all about the Beast, this time the focus was on Beauty. But she was eerie, a postapocalyptic princess. The first outfit—an unstructured trench belted over a floating chiffon dress in tone-on-tone shades of gray—set the mood, along with wrapped heads, makeup that shaded the models' faces as though they'd walked through an ash cloud, and a Matthew Stone soundtrack that featured a stentorian interpretation of the theme from Requiem for a Dream (required listening for all aficionados of glamorous doom). Pugh's experimentation with fabrics was as obsessive as ever, with feather-light tops, dresses, and pants that were micro-pleated or woven or slashed in crepe or chiffon. But the effect was a kind of moon-glow lightness, rather than the alien articulation his clothes once relied on. And when there was extreme structure, it was effectively used, as in lapels that unfurl the more they are unzipped on a cape-backed dress.
The designer mixed womenswear and menswear in his show. His men's clothes were significantly more restrictive (as in corseted) than his women's. Given a front row that embraced Rihanna, Michael Stipe, Terence Koh, and Adrian Grenier from Entourage, Pugh is perhaps a better student of human nature than we appreciate.