Speaking to Jack Moss, Molly Goddard tells the story behind her Spring/Summer 2021 collection, presented as a short film at London Fashion Week yesterday
Molly Goddard’s catwalk shows have always been expressions of the designer’s community, which is particularly tight-knit: models are often friends, or muses; she works closely with her sister, Alice Goddard, a stylist; and the mood often suggests festivities (at one show, at the Tate Modern, models gathered at tables drinking glasses of wine; at another, Edie Campbell, a longtime friend, walked the runway smoking an e-cigarette). “I think for me the fashion show is really, really important,” she told AnOther in May. “When I start thinking about the collection, I’m picturing it; I’m picturing what the show is going to be like at the same time as I’m designing everything.”
Her Autumn/Winter 2020 collection – held this past February at Westminster’s Central Hall – struck a similar mood: guests crowded around tables laden with bottles of wine and bowls of bread. Instead of a press release, she released a photograph of herself as a child in cult Japanese magazine Fruits, dressed up at Portobello market with her father, and the collection mined memories of visiting this market and ones like it near her home while growing up. She added menswear for the first time, at the behest of her boyfriend; Campbell watched on from the front row, alongside Goddard’s numerous well-wishers – “I just wanted to bring people together,” she said after the show. They were words that would prove prophetic: as Covid-19 began to sweep across Europe, Goddard’s show would be one of the last public gatherings of its kind.
Six months on, London Fashion Week returns, albeit in a very different context, taking place almost exclusively digitally in the wake of further social distancing measures by the government implemented last week. Goddard had originally planned an intimate salon presentation in her London studio, though chose instead to undertake one-to-one appointments with press, as well as screening a short film as part of the fashion week schedule, which premiered yesterday evening. “I do feel disappointed not to be showing, I love the whole stress of a show,” she told AnOther in the run-up. “I loved the idea of doing a small salon show ... I wanted people to see where and how we worked, even if it was only a handful of people I liked the idea the people who came to see it remember it and talk about it.”
Despite this, Goddard remains upbeat: “I hope it makes people happy,” the designer says of the collection, which began with photographs of the art collectors Giuseppe and Giovanna Panza, surrounded by artworks by Claes Oldenburg and Yves Klein, and was conceived while still in lockdown. “I obviously had days in my pyjamas but the more effort I made each day the better I felt. I have always wanted to make clothes that people enjoy wearing and feel comfortable in but I also really value making clothes which are totally unwearable and impractical, I don’t really see the point in it otherwise.”
In practice, this made for one of the weekend’s most mood-lifting moments, an electric collage of colour and pattern: “messy chunky frills, smooth floppy frills, straight smocked voile, checkerboard cotton knits ... mental accessories,” in Goddard’s words. The latter included her first collaboration with footwear label UGG, with whom she created two different styles, a towering slip-on platform and a pair of furry slippers, a nod towards Goddard’s own time spent working from home. But it was her signature shocks of tulle – this time in exuberant shades of red, yellow and neon pink – which continued to focus the eye.
Here, in a conversation held in the run up to the show, Goddard explains the joyful Spring/Summer 2021 collection in her own words.
“I have always been obsessed with Villa Menafoglio Litta and Giuseppe and Giovanna Panza’s art collection. Years ago I found images of them sitting in their ornate Italian Villa in the 1950s surrounded by Claes Oldenburg papier-mâché dresses and Yves Klein. I love the textures and contrast between modern mess and traditional lines.
“[In the collection] there are stories that are exciting to me: messy chunky frills, smooth floppy frills, straight smocked voile, checkerboard cotton knits and then all the mental accessories that have been so fun to work with. I am working with Alice [Goddard] again and she brings a new energy to the whole collection and puts looks together I would never have imagined.
“I do feel disappointed not to be showing, I love the whole stress of a show. It’s the only way I think you can get those six months of hard work out of your system. I loved the idea of doing a small salon show in our studio, I wanted people to see where and how we worked, even if it was only a handful of people. I liked the idea of the people who came to see it remembering it and talking about it. Doing a film does feel exciting though, it does take a certain amount of pressure off everything running so smoothly and we can do more looks now which is always fun!
“I hope [the collection] makes people happy. It’s been a hard few months and so I wanted to make something that might brighten up someone’s day ... I think escapism is so important and especially now; fashion has always been a big part of that for me. Feeling good in what you are wearing can change your whole outlook on a day ... I have always wanted to make clothes that people enjoy wearing and feel comfortable in but I also really value making clothes which are totally unwearable and impractical, I don’t really see the point in it otherwise. It’s a very lucky job to have so I have to make the most of it.
“I have learnt recently how lucky we are to be so local, 90 per cent of who we work with, at every level, from sampling to production, are based in London. We have a proper community of craftspeople and makers who are close by. I didn’t appreciate how special that was until recently and I think it’s important to maintain that, even if it makes it harder to grow as a business I think sticking to working with a close community is vital. I would love to do a show next season, probably smaller than we have ever done and still in our studio but I want people to be there and I want to be able to celebrate with my team and friends afterwards.”