This colorful, textural collection full of gentle padding, quilting and cutouts, was obscured by a piece of performance art that left the audience scratching their heads, and wondering whether they’d leave the east London venue wet or dry.
The runway ran between two long and dark pools of water in which actors writhed and crawled. In the far pool, a black dog barked a few times, although it was unclear what all this had to do with the collection: A polished lineup of cutout jackets and sweaters, trench coats, boxy suits and performance-inspired padded, patched and zippered trousers.
It turns out there was a whole involved narrative going on, which Ross needed to explain in detail after the show. He talked about the set reflecting the global climate, right-wing nationalism, the free movement of people, the depths of fear, and the human impulse to move forward, oppression, freedom and ascending through the dark water.
Pretentious could not even begin to describe this spectacle, although the warning signs were all there: The invitation didn’t have an address printed on it, and the press release that had been placed on the seats was 10 paragraphs long. It was too dark in the venue to read it ahead of time.
There is no doubt that Ross is making serious progress: He’s a media darling in London, took on an investor in 2018 and last month won the prize for emerging men’s wear designer at the Fashion Awards in London. He collaborates with Nike and offers his own footwear and accessories collections.
Ross also said he is speaking to an ever-broader demographic and selling through 150 retailers worldwide. He described this latest collection not only as wearable, but also “softer, more elegant and more sophisticated” than in the past.
By mixing this sort of performance art with a runway collection, though, he risks becoming his own worst enemy. Samuel, Samuel! Save your time and your money and, next season, just show us the clothes.