Gareth Pugh on the Sea

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In honour of World Oceans Day, we revisit Gareth Pugh's love of the Sunderland sea in AnOther Magazine A/W13

"I grew up in Sunderland and from my house you could see the sea. It’s something that I really miss when I’m in London. I used to be obsessed by the Millais image of Ophelia in the river. You’re not sure whether she’s being birthed from the water or submerged by it. The whole body of water thing has so many connotations – it’s life, it’s death, it’s beautiful, it’s powerful. It’s that feeling of being on the edge of a piece of earth, and looking out into the unknown. How do you describe that vastness? Like space or the stars, there’s no sense of perspective. Maybe what I didn’t explain was that I actually hate the sea – I’m petrified of deep water – but standing on the edge of a piece of land, and looking out into the unknown, I feel this incredible, euphoric sense of freedom."

"The whole body of water thing has so many connotations – it’s life, it’s death, it’s beautiful, it’s powerful."

Ever since debuting his otherworldy designs, Gareth Pugh has maintained his position at the vanguard of fashion. Multifarious references and binary oppositions are literally sewn together in his exquisite creations, at once disruptive and unpredictable, yet harmonious and conceptually complete. His autumn/winter 2013 show, for example, saw him reference a Ukrainian mountain tribe of warrior women alongside mid-century couture, whilst garments made from rich fabrics were shown alongside those meticulously fashioned from plastic bin bags. Besides the catwalks of Paris, his designs have been celebrated on stages worldwide, from the costumes in Kylie Minogue’s Showgirl: The Greatest Hits Tour, to those worn by dancers for Wayne McGregor’s London Royal Opera House sell-out ballet Carbon Life. Indeed, the oscillating sea may be the perfect metaphor for Pugh’s work, at once familiar yet strange, romantic yet brutal, restless and timeless.

This feature originally ran in the autumn/winter 2013 issue of AnOther Magazine.