Staking his claim as a dark lord of dramatic fashion, Gareth Pugh went all out for his return to London after seven years showing in Paris. An artsy film by Ruth Hogben opened the proceedings, featuring Aymeline Valade hacking off her hair with giant scissors, smearing a red cross on her torso, and going up in flames à la Joan of Arc. This cued a parade of witchy warrior women in clothes and hats so sculptural the models sometimes resembled chess pieces.
Marking his first decade in fashion, Pugh reduced his Goth vocabulary to purist shapes. The clothes were immaculate, full skirts fanning over the stone floors of the V&A; minimalist coats and capes enveloping the body and framing the face with their dramatic collars or Grim Reaper hoods. Everything was black, including thousands of black plastic drinking straws arranged into chevron embroideries or served as spiky fringe on jersey dresses.
In his show notes, Pugh said the straws, and the chants of soccer fans on the spooky soundtrack, were humorous touches to break the mood of doom. This full-throttle blast of fashion fierceness reminded many in the audience of Lee Alexander McQueen – and served as a primer for the museum’s next blockbuster show, “Savage Beauty,” devoted to a late great designer and opening in a few weeks.