So often we are forced to become one thing and not another- while other commentators are waiting for Claire Barrow to decide whether to pursue art or fashion, it's clear to me that she is multi-faceted and able to explore her art in tandem through various forms of media. Her most recent offering, 'The Retro-Spective' (purposefully misspelled) combined her signature monsters and miscreants, garments inspired by a bygone era strung together with a raw grittiness. In the background specially commissioned films produced by Duke Brooks, Liv Fontaine and Alice Neale elevated these clothes into art. The most wonderful thing about Barrow is that she has remained unyielding to the typical business models which control out fashion designers. More than that, she simply creates what feels most natural to her. Over the years she has continued to refine her practice and while the colours are perfectly balanced, they highlight the apparent mess and discord of her chosen imagery.
One of the things I appreciate most about a Claire Barrow collection is that while the clothes aren't raw in the sense that they may fall apart, the energy behind them certainly is raw. Fashion week and fashion month as a whole slowly becomes a three-headed dog or other creature from Greek mythology with one day slowly blurring into the next. And this is just me commentating from my couch without experiencing any of the madness in person. But personally I find the idea of clothes which *look* like I could have made them (had I dedicated the time to their inception and had the skill to then artfully construct them), very comforting. DIY has been on my mind a lot lately, as an alternative to buying whatever clothes are available to us in store. Of course, I haven't had the time to put this into practice yet with the majority of my evenings spent cooking dinner and polishing off whatever chores need to get done. But my brain is slowly but surely ticking away as I figure out what projects I want to tackle next and on a budget. I'm seriously considering to attempt a black long sleeve with smiley face (pictured second).
The collection deviated between the Victorian era by way of ruffled dresses with wallpaper-esque stripes, lace skirts and nods to the punk movement. Both irrefutably British, one being very proper and the other, the complete opposite. Although diametrically opposed, the two ideals came together in perfect synchronicity. It's exciting to see a young designer with such a strong sense of self, celebrating England at London Fashion Week. We hardly see that sort of patriotism, save for a few select designers who show at New York Fashion Week. But Claire Barrow's tights emblazoned with the Union Jack almost paled in comparison to the white briefs which were worn over the top. This look was then further abstracted by the use of thin knitted scarves, which doubled as a headshawl. She also earns bonus points for including the most English shoes of all, Dr Martens in her collection. I will continue to keep score as I cover each and every show from London Fashion Week, hopefully backtracking to cover NYFW followed by MFW and then ending in Paris.
*Images via Claire Barrow instagram, i-D and Business of Fashion