There’s almost a religious devotion to how Gareth Pugh talks about his work. The sense of sacrifice and commitment to the creation of something that will take bigger proportions than the creator himself really came across during this beautiful lecture/interview at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The discussion points were many but one message came through loud and clear: it’s not all about the money. When talking about the state of today’s fashion industry it’s almost impossible, not to talk about commercialization. It’s from this, that Pugh affirms the importance of making the right choices. He draws joy, satisfaction almost from being able to say no to very lucrative projects yet this would have little to do with what he has in mind; it would compromise his artistic will, if you like. For Pugh, it’s about making choices that make sense for him as a designer. In these cases the risks are many, from jeopardizing your views to giving everything you have worked for, your essence, to another brand. And obviously the consequence is often that you don’t know what you and your work mean anymore, your initial message gets lost in translation, from independent ideas to commercialized ones and inevitably you lose track of yourself and your production. He gives a great piece of advice to new designers: “If it doesn’t ring true, say no”. He is quite selfless in his art, you can tell it’s not just about frocks but it’s about someone with a rather uncommon artistic vision for these days.
In the interview he cannot stress enough the importance of choices in the sense of doing something because it excites you, not for profit. He also talks about his business, his non-business rather, in more detail. He says about himself that he doesn’t have time for numbers or pie charts and that he’s also very lucky that he doesn’t have to worry about that.
The innovation and inspiration across his production came from multiple experiences throughout his life. Being a dancer influenced his work and designing the costumes for the ballet Carbon Life at the Royal Opera House he had the chance to see his work in movement, putting himself and his work in front of a different audience. Movement is something really important for the way he wants his clothes to be seen and because of this he often makes fashion films. In choosing this medium for showing his work instead of presentations or normal catwalks, he feels like he is in total control – admitting to being a bit of a control freak. Pugh explains that presentations or catwalks are what people would expect from a fashion show, but through film the spectators see what the designer wants them to see. The use of fashion film is also a way of demystifying the idea that if it’s not an actual fashion show with a runway then it’s not serious. It is a way of subverting the canons of fashion where the orthodox idea is that if there aren’t live models it is bound to be of lesser quality.
The beauty of hearing Pugh discussing his work, method and ideas out loud is refreshing and you can really feel how humble he is and his need to be happy with what he does even if it’s not profitable. He’s not driven by greed but solely by his creativity, not by numbers. If you don’t love him already, do fall in love with him.
His humility is especially palpable when discussing fashion education, making sure to say to the entire audience, probably mostly made up of fashion students, that just because they go to some of the best schools in the world like Central Saint Martins they should not feel entitled to a job after graduation. He gives tough love but he speaks the truth: “nobody is going to give you anything for nothing”. This is true for any student really. Self-entitlement is everywhere and to really make the difference in whatever field you’re in, you have to really want it and learn how to rely on yourself.
To sum up, here are the Gareth Pugh commandments that every student, every young individual should keep in mind for the future. To be consulted when you find yourself losing a bit of your magic and inspiration.
- IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!
- DON’T TRY TO PLEASE EVERYBODY – IF THEY DON’T GET YOU THEY JUST DON’T
- BE PART OF A CULTURAL DIALOGUE AND ALLOW YOURSELVES TO SPEAK IN DIFFERENT WAYS
- DON’T FEEL LIKE PEOPLE SHOULD GIVE YOU SOMETHING JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE GOOD – THERE’S PLENTY OF GOOD PEOPLE OUT THERE
For the complete interview and to listen to those words for yourselves head over to showstudio.com