The planets aligned for Gareth Pugh
tonight. He got to show his clothes just the way he'd always wanted—with his longtime collaborators Matthew Stone and Ruth Hogben providing, respectively, brilliant sound and vision to enhance his collection. Maybe that's why the show itself was more upbeat than anything this designer's ever done. In fact, it was positively happy, which sounds like a weird thing to say about a presentation that began with the image of a model in agonized isolation on the screen at the back of the catwalk. But—more to the point—it ended in fiery triumph, with Pugh's glistening, masked insectoid hybrid stalking down the runway and assuming her rightful place as empress of the universe. She'd shed her humanity to find her power. OK, that's a conceptual bridge the average boutique browser may find hard to cross, and maybe it just comes to mind because Hollywood's tom-toms are already throbbing on behalf of next year's last-woman-standing spectacular The Hunger Games
, but Pugh's models definitely looked weaponized, like sci-fi birds of prey. This was the dynamic, fearless apotheosis of his woman, so much so that the male models paraded by the designer looked like her next meal.
In a sense, Pugh orchestrated that reaction by cherry-picking through his own iconography. But the references to earlier collections—the stripes, the floating scarf points, the billowing balloon-y volumes, the monochrome—were so expertly refreshed that there was never a moment of déjà vu. Even the most churlish viewer would have to acknowledge the validity of this designer's approach, which is all about refining with intense precision one very particular point of view, rather than roaming that universe his woman seeks to rule.