Mood board: The show was entitled ‘Performa’ in homage to the performance art biennial created by Roselee Goldberg in 2004. Ever since, this has explored the role of live performance within contemporary art discourse and encouraged new directions. ’The romance of Joseph Beuys’ Aktions at Documenta in the Seventies always thrilled me and, in my head, Performa is the evolution of that,’ Owens said in the show notes. At the start, guttural smoke machines were fired up, spewing a cloud of greyish cashmere smoke along the floor, skimming the shoes of the guests.
Best in show: The show opened with a series of cashmere all-in-ones that sinuously wrapped around the body. The look channelled a hard comfort. Draped tees; vinyl macs worn over puffas. Peaked shoulders mimicked Le Corbusier’s Modulor Man from the architect’s anthropometric scale of proportions devised in the late 1940s. Some knits were traced in graphic line and worn under double-faced cashmere robes. With his clothes, Owens has always embodied a performative kind of luxury. For A/W 20, the jackets and tabards were sculptural, unforgiving. Shoulders colossal. The collection was muted in grey yet lifted by painted snake, bright blue fish skin, leopard-printed satins and bleached seawolf patchwork.
Sound bite: Owens had been thinking about the designer as performer. ‘I had always regarded personal behaviour, social and moral, as something to quietly but diligently work on improving. But at 58, I find myself, for better or worse, performing,’ he considered. ‘The difference between behaviour and performance implies falseness and rehearsal in the latter, but maybe concentration on behaviour can be a bit passively dry? And performance a joyous contribution? Our Instagram generation makes refining behaviour vs indulging in performance a weird new balancing act…’
London based writer Dal Chodha is editor-in-chief of Archivist Addendum — a publishing project that explores the gap between fashion editorial and academe. He writes for various international titles and journals on fashion, art and culture and is a contributing editor at Wallpaper*. Chodha has been working in academic institutions for more than a decade and is Stage 1 Leader of the BA Fashion Communication and Promotion course at Central Saint Martins. In 2020 he published his first book SHOW NOTES, an original hybrid of journalism, poetry and provocation.
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