A pixellated crystal curtain slowly opened to unveil Antipodium’s latest collection, aptly named “How to Affect Robots and Influence People.” The curtain, the models, the hairstyles, the clothes: everything was a subtle balance between human and robotic, construction and deconstruction. Geoffrey J. Finch was constructing beauty but also deconstructing kitsch tropes: bon-ton bows and cardigans were morphed into rigid armours, secretaries’ pencil skirts becoming the cyborg’s favourite item. Checks, kilts, python shoes, pastels and gold, the paraphernalia of cute and/or tradition were all subverted, paradoxically used to demonstrate a minimalistic aesthetic.
Flesh, antique pink, military green, burgundy and muted browns, the token colours of an old-fashioned elegance were reinvented with crisp cuts and a surgical attention to details. In fact surgery was the leitmotiv of the collection, Finch having collaborated with Dr Tim Goodacre, the President of the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons for the show. One only needed French artist Orlan or one of her performances in the background to complete the beauty-and-surgery combination.
Construction, deconstruction, reconstruction: just like bodies, these looks went under the knife, with pre-surgical markings as their embellishments. PVC-like white leather was the threshold between surgery and architecture, two fields interestingly paired together for the sake of this clean study of form. Jackets are of course Antipodium’s forte, and there were plenty stunning examples, mostly menswear shapes softened by more feminine colours; for instance, a perfecto in ancient pink and military green, or a sleeveless sheer grey blazer à la Kate Lanphear, who seemed to be approving in the audience. These tailored pieces gave both an edge and a hint of eroticism to the light ballerina dresses of the woman-patient.
Sleeves, belts and collars were the focal point of each look, most often contrasting with the shades of dresses and jackets – black collar grey jacket, white collar pink dress, and so on and so forth. Just as the surgeons’ markings, these details cut the silhouette and contributed to the robotic side much better than any literal sci-fi lore.
The cyborg attitude was to be read behind the lines, in the repetition of patterns throughout the whole show. The most obvious pattern recognition was that of squares and pixels, appearing first in the lighting, then in the angular headpieces, then on colour charts incorporated in shirts and skirts. Other leitmotivs: military, with balloon shapes and dark green, as well as trench-coats; the circle, with crinolines uncannily making a comeback on SS13 runways. The show itself functioned as if on a loop, with motifs reappearing every four or five looks in a computerized, if not robotic manner. These were clues to understand the plot of the collection, Finch working with the literary devices of a Thomas Pyncheon or, to stay within the fashion world, with the deconstructive skills of Martin Margiela. Even some of the furniture puns of the Belgian designer seemed to emerge now and then, but Finch’s deconstruction is less ‘impossible’, and the overall result much more wearable.
It is always pleasing to find a collection which has a complicated structure and shows thorough research while at the same time providing desirable items. The Australian designer chose to work with oxymora, robotizing the humans and anthropomorphizing the cyborgs, leaving unfinished markings as finished dresses and transforming mood-boards into wearable pieces. He described the show as a study in function and dysfunction: thankfully, dysfunction came into the picture, to avoid that these creatures became frigid, unreachable bodies.
Two looks were absolutely astonishing: a long ‘foil’ dress with black sleeves, spage-age Grace Kelly, and a medical-like waxed light grey/transparent trenchcoat, embodying to perfection the contradictions of plastic surgery and the digital era – and also gracefully resolving those contradictions with the help of fashion.
Photos Isa Jakob20 September 2012 Leave a Comment