The Performance Issue

  • Alexander McQueen Ready-to-Wear Spring/Summer 1999


The idea of Performance is, by no means, a revolutionary concept in the world of fashion. Anyone with even a passing interest can cite the designers of the last few decades that are visionaries, creating the kind of catwalk shows that continue to seduce so many aspiring students to the fashion industry year after year.

Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano, Hussein Chalayan and Rick Owens are a few of the designers who seek to provoke and challenge our ideas of what a catwalk show should be. But, of course, the name that is most prominent when discussing iconic and seminal moments on the catwalk is Alexander McQueen. The legacy of his work and the ability to completely enchant an audience season after season is still of huge influence to British fashion.

In recent years, the way we dress has changed. Fashion has become increasingly casual, heavily influenced by streetwear. As a direct result, we have seen a more relaxed (and economical) approach to presenting clothes on the catwalk. The highly stylised look of this era became less relevant, as was the need to present clothing accompanied with crippling expense and ridiculous production levels. In the last few seasons however, albeit a different guise, performance on the catwalk has started to resurface.

The show that kick-started what we have now seen on the catwalk for the last few seasons was Rick Owens Spring/Summer 2014 Ready-to-Wear. A coven of thick, black, real women stepped, shouted and grimaced in the most uncompromising way to bemused and admiring fashion journalists in the audience.

In London, this new mood has been seen most prominently within the menswear shows. Unequivocally punk in spirit are the shows of Art School, Charles Jefferey, LOVERBOY and for AW18 Rottingdean Bazaar, celebrating different genders, sexuality, race and ideals of beauty highly – a reaction to the unstable and harrowing global events that now seem to be a part of our everyday lives.

Also within this is a kind of quiet radicalism is emerging. Designers choosing to show their collections on their own terms, whether that be creating a cult following that supports and (perhaps most crucially, buys your clothes) or choosing to make collections at a slower more considered pace and going against the ethics of conventional clothing production. This quiet confidence is being seen across all creative disciplines which sees unique talented individuals executing choice – the most radical and progressive tool an artist can have.

For this issue we have chosen to feature individuals working within fashion, art and music for whom performance is central to their work. We kick off this issue with an interview with Martine Rose, who has steadily built a cult following with series of considered and unique menswear presentations shot by photographer Lucy Alex Mac.

We follow this with The New Sustainables feature. We talk to a number of young designers to whom the process of sustainability is of particular importance to their work. Shot by photographer Laura Mcluskey.

Our New Talent piece features four of our ‘Ones to Watch’ across the disciplines of sport, music, poetry and fashion shot by photographer Lucas Suchorab and we finish the issue with an exclusive interview with Cosey Fanni Tutti formerly of Throbbing Gristle, interviewed by ‘Who’s that Girl’ NTS presenter Leyla Pillai.

Written by Shirley Amartey / Published 30 June 2017