September 14, 2012 London
With its plethora of paisley prints and sailor stripes, a take on solid stretch and translucency, there was something both playful and cartoony about the collection that showed its heart was in the right place. A "Groove Is in the Heart" catsuit certainly had its charms. Lady Miss Kier carried off this way of dressing with amazing aplomb, inspiring countless girls in nightclubs around the world at the beginning of the nineties. Yet at the time it never looked nostalgic, just being of the now. Presented in London today, there was a definite pining for the past, for the club and fashion landscape of the early nineties, in the PPQ collection.
The problem for PPQ is that landscape has disappeared. If only fashion worked in the same way now. At that point, local designers would have a place to sell such clothes in London and be taken seriously: facing down the fearsome Fiona Cartledge at Sign of the Times—she also ran the club nights—or setting up a stall in Hyper Hyper. These were places for a fast turnover; flash, fun clothes for a Saturday night that were trashed by Sunday afternoon. At that point the High Street was a lumbering beast that simply couldn't keep up with clothes like this. Now it can. And it has the resources to produce them in better fabrics and make them cheaper.
This leaves labels like PPQ in a difficult position. Always at their best with something light and breezy and slightly disposable, Molyneaux and Parker are still in the business of designer clothing with the expectation for high-end production values. Now that their millennial club-kid fan base has grown up—although, by the look of the show's audience, they are decidedly refusing to admit it—they might want something less ephemeral.