This season represented the sixth chapter/act in our imaginary book/play “A Cosmology of Women,” which we had put on hiatus for a few seasons. It began with the collection “A Rebours” (fall/winter 2010) and continued through “Suddenly Last Summer” (spring/summer 2011), “A Wolf in Lamb’s Clothing” (S/S 2011), “I Am a Lie That Tells the Truth” (F/W Fall/Winter 2011), and “He Gave Me Blue Roses. LIFE! (Vicariously)” (F/W 2012).
It is not usually in my nature to actively promote a specific product—least of all a “collaborative” project, the likes of which usually leave me feeling molested and stolen from—but I can’t really talk about this collection without doing so, as it was mostly designed to tell the story of Tralala, the perfume we have spent the past three and a half years making with our friends Penhaligon’s, the same period during which we’ve been making the collections under the “Cosmology of Women” title. So this collection, inspired by that perfume, seemed a fitting end to that fictional work.
As usual, Eleanor came over to the studio before the show to capture works in progress…
the tinsel-covered entrance…
bottles of Tralala in my office…
embroideries that miraculously arrived in time for the show (very often they do not!)…
and my ever-expanding walls of research/inspiration, which are as random as can be.
These moodboards include many amazing old dresses by Callot Soeurs, Vionnet, Chanel, and Schiaparelli…
as well as images from the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.
Everything is somehow or another included on my walls, yet none of it seemed to be all that specifically relevant to anything in particular (except the Chanel, of course, which I have never made any attempt to disguise how much I want to do someday!).
I have only just come to realize how much this collection was influenced by my history and the history of my work. In December we presented a series of retrospective fashion shows to the public at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, in which we remixed and re-presented our entire archive from the past 10 years. It was the first time I had ever seen our entire history all at once, en masse, and it was quite an emotional experience for me! This was a strange feeling, as I never look back, and I usually HATE repeating myself. I have always gone to great lengths to avoid being defined and to avoid having my work tied to a specific look or “signature”; self-referencing like this is a new and slightly uncomfortable experience.
This collection was definitely, by a long, long, LONG way, the most serene one we have ever worked on. The entire process went smoothly—not usual for us! I guess this new, less controlled, more fluid approach I’ve been taking to making collections has had a calming effect on the whole undertaking, and I think you can see that in the clothes.
How Eleanor managed to get these backstage shots and emerge alive is beyond me. We are used to living in a predominantly female environment—besides Benjamin [Kirchhoff] and (kind of) me and the occasional innocuous gay boy, we never really come into contact with a lot of men, or masculinity in general, in our daily working lives—but then every season, the same thing happens backstage: About 10 minutes before the show begins, suddenly and seemingly out of nowhere this huge surge of aggressive masculine vibes appear, wielding huge phallic camera equipment, shouting at models, getting in everyone’s way, complaining about the perfume that I am spraying literally EVERYWHERE, and literally pushing and stepping on poor Eleanor! It is very unpleasant. I understand that they need to be there to shoot images for the magazines and websites, but it makes me wish there were more women photographers.
The show was in the enormous concrete turbine hall at Tate Modern, which to be honest didn’t entirely thrill me—I felt more at home at the Victoria and Albert Museum than I did being surrounded by modern contemporary art.
Also, I have recently developed a kind of have a bugbear about the mutually vampiric relationship between fashion and art: There’s a growing trend of fashion houses and designers partnering with fine artists, which seems altogether unsavory and has begun to bore me to DEATH. I feel like fashion is hiding behind art, hoping that some of the latter’s implied intellectualism will rub off on the former; as for the artists, they seem to look at fashion and see dollar signs and a chance to be in closer proximity to supermodels. It irritates me that fashion doesn’t seem to understand its own value—it seems to be insecure about its own assumed shallowness, so it tries to borrow some depth and gravity from fine art. It makes me sad.
I cannot stop myself from mentioning that these clothes are all MUCH lovelier in real life than they appear in the catwalk photos on Style.com or what have you.
I began this collection, once again, entirely without a plan—even more so than last season! I did not draw anything AT ALL; I literally made everything up as I went along, dress by dress, garment by garment. The result, it has taken me until now to fully understand, was like revisiting old friends—all the old “characters” from earlier chapters of “The Cosmology of Women” made appearances like tattered old ghosts. Each of those characters played an essential role in the creation of Tralala, and the fragrance in turn embodies all of those women.
Finally, I want to mention two things: First, my gratefulness to our amazing cast of models, a wonderful mix of professionals and girls we cast on the street. And second, if Rookie readers want to watch more of this show, Sharna Osborne made a video which you can watch here. ♦