Gareth Pugh

The set design by Simon Costin set a chilling tone, recalling that classic scene from The People Under the Stairs, with broken slats of wood covering the windows, letting the light stream through into the otherwise darkened smoke-filled room. And just when it seemed that the atmosphere couldn’t get any more tense, the high priestess herself arrived. Cher! The front row was in a flap while the lights slowly dimmed to start the show.

It was clear from the first exit that Pugh was back in a sculptural frame of mind, after a brief dalliance with softer form last season. The silhouette recalled mid-century couture, with wide funnel necks and perfectly cut waists, ballooning into fuller than full skirts, which seemed to float down the runway, defying their scale. A clue to what may have been hiding underneath, creating the fullness, came in the last exits, which were crafted out of shredded trash bags! Elegantly woven and tattered into fringing at first, they soon morphed into huge sculptural spheres and topiary-like shapes—the perfect allegory for the fragility hidden within Pugh’s tough, sculptured exteriors.

Gareth was in top form, and the crowd responded enthusiastically, with the finale perfectly orchestrated by music stylist Matthew Stone’s inclusion of Dolly Parton’s haunting Little Sparrow, voicing the soul of Gareth’s woman: “Little sparrow, little sparrow, precious fragile little thing.”

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