There is a wide variety of presentation spaces during London Fashion Week. There are stately ballrooms in the cosy enclaves of plush hotels, glamourised car parks, derelict warehouses and public markets, underground station entrances, art galleries and churches. In London and Paris, particularly, the designers’ so-called ‘venue game’ is strong. A venue that most designers don’t however use is the one closest to the heart of their business: their studio. There are a litany of reasons for this. Firstly, the dimensions of their workplace simply may not facilitate fifty to one-hundred plus guests; secondly, leading on from the first reason, it is probably a fire hazard to do so.
Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos, masterminds behind Peter Pilotto, took a gamble for their Spring 2017 collection. They invited selected press and buyers to their studio, along Regents Canal in North London. They exposed the ‘underbelly’ of their operation, the less-than-pretty location—as opposed to what they show in venues that have included the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Brewer Street Car Park, the V&A Museum. Guests sat on colourful plinths, the studio's lighting illuminating the collection—the boys worked with their regular collaborator Bureau Betak to bring the setting to the next level.
You could view the location as a form of subtext: to emphasise the focus on craft. Influenced by the hot hues of architect Luis Barragán, sun-bleached frescos, tropical baroque—a melange of summer, warmth and colour. Latin America proved to be an important factor in the development of this collection. See, Pilotto and de Vos travelled there recently, to Peru (where part of de Vos’ ancestry is found), Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Cuba. The European perception of the Latin continent is always dreamy, optimistic and colourful. This isn’t the reality but when spun, the narrative makes for pleasurable viewing. Tropical vistas, regalia, palm trees, psychedelic pineapples and other fruits, flowers and abstract animal prints. Print being at the crux of their business, it was nice to see the boys play to their second strength: craft.
Subtle adornments of mother-of-pearl and cotton embroideries added a textural depth to the clothes which strengthened the narrative. If one was to recall Central and South American art forms of fashion, literature, film, art, richness and exuberance are adjectives typically associated.
A carnival-ready full-skirt in a bold shade of amethyst was paired with a multicoloured knit poncho complete with the image of a crying moon. The fuchsia top, with blue, yellow and orange piping, adorned with summer iconography, was styled with a green, white and blue, striped, floor-sweeping skirt. The explosion of colours, the splicing of different textures and the sun-kissed glow and ease of the model captured the essence of summer in Brazil. The top was a more flattering interpretation of the rash guard; the bottoms both a beach towel or an inflated version of evening attire.
With multiple colour schemes at play the duo ensured there was something to be found for everyone. There was the aforementioned sunbleached hues, the vivid pigments of architect Luis Barragán, and New Zealand-born contemporary artist Francis Upritchard, whose fusion of bright and subdued colours also appeared. It was a fascinating encapsulation of all the possibilities a woman would desire come the summer months. And it was all presented merely feet from where it was made.
The simplicity of the venue not only proved the difficulty of venue hunting in a vast city such as London, but it showed how frivolous the location and the setting are. Without many Instagrammable moment, the boys transported the guests back to the not-so-distant past when designers had nothing to hide behind and the clothes were the focus of a fashion show.
Photo Credit: Vogue Runway