February 27, 2013 Paris
Pugh's linear, graphic style—you can have any color as long as it's black, white, or gray—was back. Yet it was coupled with that slightly softer romanticism of last season; there was a prolonged section of deep blue in this collection, something not seen before from the designer, as well as an enveloping sense of forceful femininity. As the show began, Pugh's structured, rigid silhouettes were mixed with a late-Victorian, floor-sweeping sensibility that brought to mind a Wilkie Collins set piece. A stiff, stark, floor-length funnel-necked dress was softened somewhat by gold embroidery of branches around its edges. Yet, as the woman in white was gradually replaced by the woman in black, any thoughts of ethereality were swiftly banished, especially as the model Marie Piovesan came down the runway playing a forceful role.
"We had found this information about a tribe of women called the Asgarda," Pugh said after his show. "They're amazing and inspiring. They want autonomy from men, and they live in the Carpathian Mountains." The influence of this contemporary band of extremely tough women, who take their cues from the Amazons, filtered into the collection, knocking any notions of mere costume drama out of it. "It is about both fight and flight this time," said Pugh. The standout looks were based on simple T-shirt shapes with full-length skirts, which had an ease about them that was new for the designer. They were a direct reference to the Asgarda, but also an artful nod to mid-century couture, marrying a new and an old sensibility for Pugh that suits him well.
In Pugh's metamorphosis last season, you couldn't help but miss a little of that giddy London fun of his earlier shows and collections. Today it was back, on an ultra-bratty but ultra-sophisticated level, in his tour de force use of garbage bags. Never has a trash bag been put to more dramatic and romantic use than in this collection's finale looks. Specially chosen for their very cheapness—the texture was almost raffialike—they were carefully crafted, woven into astonishing dresses that had an extravagant feel of topiary. "There isn't a bin bag left in E8!" laughed Pugh. These particular ones were selected from the Dalston one-pound shop near his studio in London. Trash transformed into treasure.