Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Eternal Pomp and Circumstance of Pam Hogg

In London, there’s the recently-graduated, the recently-established and the legacy brands. And there’s Pam Hogg.

This isn’t to single out Hogg’s work as inferior. Rather, she’s on an entirely separate plane to the other designers showing in London that her work exists on an incomparable universe. Her shows are bombastic, fun and oftentimes controversial. (She has famously sent nude models down the runway, draped in stripy jackets or latex boleros.) 

She’s a Scottish woman with links to Paula Yates, Siouxsie Sioux and Debbie Harry of Blondie. She’s been around since the 1980s and is positioned on a London schedule which is perhaps the antithesis of joy—brevity kills enjoyment. (There can be up to 18 shows a day at London Fashion Week—and that’s just the official schedule.) Hogg was featured on the official schedule this season and showed at Freemasons’ Hall, the impressive art deco building in Holborn. 
It was a riot of colour and fabric—latex, faux-fur, faux-leather and tulle fancies created a garish extravagance which served as a paean to the 90s. Suffice to say, colour exploded, lips were stained red, cheeks were daubed in an assortment of hues. The models stride was one marked with confidence and exuberance, as if Hogg herself had stepped into their platform heels and strutted down the runway. (Of course, she did the prerequisite bow at the end, commandeering her fleet of fanciful creations down the runway, in a graphic-print catsuit and towering heels.)

It is five times removed from the typical show at London Fashion Week. You can’t expect to see a fur bodysuit with gold fringe details and thigh-high latex boots or a flesh-bearing tulle dress fastened by a leather harness at any of the other shows. If anything, the closest comparison could be Charles Jeffrey’s LOVERBOY, a menswear fixture, which fixates itself with the revival of 80s tropes and the preservation of club culture, unabashedly celebrating self-expression and individuality. Hogg, however, predates the internet and her clothes first existed in 1980s London, during a pivotal time for youth and club culture, and subcultural currents which ran through the capital at the time. It’s still relevant today. 

Perhaps her beginnings in the pre-internet era is a testament to the honesty in her design. She is a woman wishing to convince her audience by sweeping them off their feet with theatre, pomp and circumstance. But it all comes back to the individual. The Pam Hogg woman, whose colourful individualistic streak runs wild amongst a sea of trend-led designers.  

It was a show dedicated to her friend, the late stylist and punk designer Judy Blame, who passed away three days after Hogg’s show. It immortalised his spirt in a fashion collection. In hindsight, the prescience of this was a bittersweet ode to a dear friend. 

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