It was a madhouse at Palais de Tokyo in Paris when Rihanna arrived to Gareth Pugh in sunglasses bigger than her Pugh mini-dress and escorted by more service men than Michelle Obama. No one raised an eyebrow as they unceremoniously trampled the English club kids in town for the occasion. It was easy to spot them in their elaborate get ups; one gal had on a full burka, gold platform boots and face full of jewelry. Determined to stay focused on the task at hand, I asked stylist Jason Farrer next to me if he had previewed the collection. “There’s a ‘boning situation’ going on,” he offered, cryptically, “sort of like Gaultier.”
Show time, finally, and the big surprise: the Dauphin of Darkness is fading to gray for spring. Purged of anything black (much to the dismay of the gothier club kids), the collection delivered an array of poetic gray tones—dove, slate, steel, concrete and every other imaginable shade—in soft, ethereal fabrics. The walk on the lighter side also served to highlight Pugh’s expert construction skills (the shredding, corsetry and, yes, the boning), as seen in a pair of pants with a chiffon train flowing from the derriere. In all, not a commercial venture, but certainly more accessible, and an important evolution considering not everyone is interested in reliving Leigh Bowery’s glory days.
After the show, I was tempted to chat up Michael Stipe, wearing the new Margiela sunglasses, but was distracted by the bulging guns of the true King of Darkness, Rick Owens, there with his wife and Gareth’s backer, Michele Lamy. I wanted to ask him for fitness tips, but settled on the usual thoughts of the show. “It was amazing!” I then asked how it’s even possible to see another designer’s collection the day before his runway outing. He only smiled coyly and said, “Well, I try. At least to my good friends.”