It was always going to be hard to know what to expect from Gareth Pugh’s second film, directed by Ruth Hogben, which was presented last night at New York’s Milk Studios as part of M.A.C. and Milk’s collaboration this season. It could not possibly have been a fashion film given that his show in Paris was going to be taking place in a few weeks time. Instead, in the loading bay, on a giant suspended cube, four extracted ideas of the collection were presented on the four facets, representing elements of fire, wind, earth and water. As new-age as that sounds, it needs to be seen to be fully understood (film now live on SHOWstudio) as even Pugh admitted it was a hard piece to describe in words. For those familiar with Pugh’s work, it is an enticing ensemble piece that does exactly what it set out to do; prequel the show. For those not so familiar, they might have taken away an essence or a mood of what Pugh’s aesthetic is all about.
Dazed and Confused spoke to Pugh and Hogben about their second collaboration.
Dazed Digital: What did you want to achieve with this film?
Ruth Hogben: It was to evoke emotion more than to show garments. He wanted a taster of what he was feeling about his next show and it was more about what I felt about Gareth. He spoke to me about colour palettes used for the show. I wanted to create something about what I felt about Gareth. There are lots of emotions there that sum up Gareth.
DD: Talk us through the ideas for the four facets of the installation?
Ruth Hogben: He had four ideas of what he wanted on each side. They were elements of wind, fire, water and earth. We just talked about them, he was showing me the clothes and with the one with the throne in it, he wanted that one to be quite special.
DD: This is the second time you’ve worked with fashion films?
Ruth Hogben: The last one was a fashion film for a collection. This one is in anticipation for his show. It’s not the same thing, or the same genre.
DD: What have you been working on recently?
Ruth Hogben: I’ve just finished the Christopher Kane for Topshop film which is out now. I’ve just done my first shoot with Fran Burns and it’s going into Somerset House as part of the SHOWstudio exhibition. I’m working at the the NEWGEN Topshop space at Somerset House.
DD: How do you feel about designers using fashion films to replace shows?
Ruth Hogben: I think with the last one we did with Gareth, it works. I don’t think it’s always the answer and I love seeing shows. I think it should be something that’s seen as a new genre, not to replace an old genre. It can work, but not all the time. It feels like a lightbulb has gone on, that actually seeing clothes in movement, it works and it’s so much stronger than seeing stills.
Dazed Digital: Why have the stress of doing this AND the show?
Gareth Pugh: M.A.C. asked me to be a part of their events here at Milk. It’s an amazing opportunity not to turn down. I didn’t want to do a live show here for various different reasons because my buyers are there and my saleroom too. I suggested we do a film and because my show is in couple of weeks, and it’s nice to do something that isn’t so clothes-centric. It’s more about the ideas behind the show. It’s difficult to talk about it! It creates an atmosphere or an emotion relating to the show.
DD: Were you wary that people coming who may not be familiar with the Gareth Pugh aesthetic would not understand it?
Gareth Pugh: That’s the thing. I think it’s really perfect because you can see this film and take what you want from it. It’s a great opportunity to do something that is about ideas. Not going to use that word (art)! I’m not gonna cross that line! It’s a fashion film but within a certain context.
DD: What made you decide to open it up to the public?
Gareth Pugh: Why not? We wanted to do it in the loading bay because of the space but it’s nice to be inclusive. It’s good that people can see it in its pure form and then the shutters go up and it’s completely different, like a street party and you can see it from the highline.
DD: How do you work with Ruth Hogben?
Gareth Pugh: We work together in the same way as I do with Katie (Shillingford), Matthew (Stone) and Simon (Costin). Ruth really understands the way I like things to look. I came up with the idea and she put her stamp on it and really, it’s just very me. It was nice for her to do something that wasn’t so fashion-y and slick.
DD: Any textual hints you can give us about the S/S 10 collection?
Gareth Pugh: That (the film) tells you much more than I would ever tell you.