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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Paris Men's Week: Gareth Pugh

By Daryoush Haj-Najafi...

Before reading any further, you need to know this about Gareth Pugh: he's not a fucking goth, at least not in the traditional slash-your-wrists sense. His weirdness lies in his search for the emotively powerful, stuff that projects strength. Take, for instance, triangles. "They're a simple, powerful shape. They fit so many of my references," he said backstage at his debut men's collection. The sharp-looking yet soft-to-the-touch metallic needles—like a furry Eraserhead—was a logical step from the triangular, he said, adding, "We went further than sci-fi for something deadly new that doesn't look like it came off a spaceship."

The show was coat heaven, as in oh-my-god-I-need-to-be-rich-right-now coats. There were quilted and knitted leather coats, lizard-skin coats, coats with armor-like shoulders and so on. Pugh only deviated from black to do chrome and gunmetal, reworking leather, metal and wool to ever greater effect. Oh, and that hair wasn't gelled down—it was tar.

Pugh has gotten so good that rumors he's about to be awarded his own Parisian house are being taken seriously by those not normally victim to such things. In less than four years he's gone from catwalk debut to showing both women's and men's Paris collections. Wow! Or rather, !WOWOW!, the name of the art collective from which he sprang.

But don't think Pugh's designs are flights of unwearable fancy either. Pugh lives the life, dressing as extremely as he creates, not just for the benefit of photographers, but also on a regular basis. His studio and flat are in an area of London known for its crack dealers, scary boozers, stolen phone un-lockers and general air of malign intent. In short, Pugh has to be pretty fierce to dress the way he does. I mean, how many times can certain men's designers say they love Bowie without one wondering just what Ziggy Stardust should look like in 2009?

Gareth Pugh

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