PENNYWISE AND RIVER PHOENIX - ALT MUSES OF LONDON FASHION WEEK
BY PRIYA ELAN - THE GUARDIAN - 19 SEPTEMBER 2016
From ruffs and puffs to silk pyjamas and Bake Off dresses, the fun side of LFW was underpinned by some unlikely influences.
Was it the proximity to Halloween? The skies turning from furnace-hot sunsets to totes emosh Bronte dark? Who knows, but London fashion week had traded in florals and stateliness for horror-movie dread and creaking-floorboard queasiness. Here are the unexpected influences from LFW ...
Toddlers and Tiaras
With the PA playing A Whole New World from Aladdin, the chairs decked with packets of Turkish Delight and tinsel chandeliers decking the venue, Ryan LO’s show was carved up like a three-year-old’s birthday party. The clothes: oversize bejewelled pirate hats, dresses in chocolate-box golds, pink and orange tiered like a showstopper from Bake Off, silk boiler suits decorated with genie lamps spoke to the idea of kids hitting the dressing-up box hard. While certain outfits, such as the white, tiered doily-like dress worn by a Bambi-ish model with zealishly applied blue eyeshadow and exaggerated, Joan Crawford-ish eyebrows suggested something more specific and creepy: the child beauty pageant show Toddlers and Tiaras.
The set for Ashley Williams was a tone poem to analogue teenage dreams. Serial Mom was on the telly, a JLS poster hung under a TV chair and a Tracey Emin-like bed sat catastrophically in the middle littered with empty bottles of gin, whisky and gin. It was perfect. The clothes spoke to a sense of adolescent awkwardness and dislocation pinned to her muse, River Phoenix. In the show notes, Williams was said to have “got lost in the place between reality and fantasy that exists in the teenage imagination,” but, she continued “the thing about River was, he just got it.” Phoenix was the oldest of his clan and the logo “First Born” re-appeared on the clothes, written in 80s Kerrang!-font. Of the other clothes, there were lilac pyjamas decorated with angel face prints and fringed with green, oversize denim dungarees worn with diamond buckled shoes, homely grey knitted jumpers featuring a Battenberg-like print, and bags featuring stuffed toy bears and cats straight out of Sonic Youth’s Dirty album sleeve.
Fashion’s obsession with the ruff and the puff shows no sign of stopping. Molly Goddard, J.W.Anderson and Preen were just some of the labels that incorporated it into their collections. While Hannah Weiland’s Shrimps took elements from Tim Curry’s turn as Pennywise in Stephen King’s IT, a masterclass in camp creepiness. The presentation featured a childlike mise en scène with diamond-encrusted sea shells, old-fashioned pyjamas worn with night bonnets and delicately luxurious clown ruffs, fringed with gold and black.