Pam Hogg was clearly one of the most anticipated shows of the week. Queues snaked around London’s Freemasons’ Hall for an hour leading up to the presentation. We watched as celebrities such as Noel Fielding, Nick Cave and Stephen Jones took their seats on the front row. The designer was running fashionably late, the photography pit was heating up and tensions were rising as we caught fleeting glimpses of models rehearsing backstage.
Hogg is well-known for her controversial designs. In previous years, skimpy bodysuits with genitals on full display and wacky chained underwear have shocked catwalk audiences. The Glasgow College of Arts graduate shot to fame after her catwalk show with collection ‘Hyper Hyper’ in 1985, and since then her designs have been worn by Lady Gaga, Rhianna and Kylie Minogue, confirming her international success.
After a stint focusing on her music career, when she supported Debbie Harris and the Pogues, the Scottish designer, to our relief, returned to the London Fashion Week catwalk in 2009. As the lights dimmed and the spotlight hit the exquisite archway in Freemasons’ Hall, a wolf’s howl marked the beginning of the runway’s soundtrack. The show began with a petite Red Riding Hood adorned in a poofy silken red crop top, and matching flowing cape, with a bouquet of branches in her hand. She walked disconcertingly slowly, her long eyelashes and vacant expression making the atmosphere uncertain. After this initially tense scene, David Bowie’s ‘Diamond Dogs’ began to blare from the speakers. This was followed by an eclectic mix of models taking to the catwalk in fierce rock-and-roll style.
The show was a warped, outlandish fairytale. The models and their walk differed depending on the character they were playing. Little Red Riding Hood was enchanting, her more cautious walk adding a haunted tone to the atmosphere. This entirely contrasted with the stag-headed female succeeding her, who strolled majestically down the catwalk. A striking chieftain donned a black feather headdress and studded, strapped crop vest accompanied by brown suede shorts, adding another element to the story.
Bowie was a clear theme across the catwalk. His iconic, glam-rock look was replicated across several of the designs. A red-Mohicaned, pirate-patched male model epitomised the pale faced Bowie look. Strutting down the catwalk in six-inch heels with particular sassiness, the androgynous model was a clear favourite among the audience.
70s catsuits also made an appearance: the first was see-through and netted, modelled by a tall, dark haired model with a shocking, square-cut mullet. The two models flirted with the cameras tremendously, taking extra care to make sure those playful and rebellious looks were captured on camera. The show wasn’t about shocking the audience, instead it played to a concept. It was flirtatious and more charming than ever before.
While the presentation represented a theatrical story, some key trends were prominent across the show. Both the red haired pirate and flower-adorned model were wearing structured, shiny, metallic capes; these may well be set to takeover from the current winter blanket look in the next season. Textures also played a large part in the show. Patent leather was a key trend across the board, whether this was strapped across the chest, or brown leather stitched onto black. The colour palette was daring, with splashes of patent shiny reds and blacks mirroring the dramatic theme of the catwalk.
The headpieces were works of art. Ranging from vibrant bouquets of flowers, to black structural spheres, headwear completed the overall theatrics of the catwalk. Most prominent of them all were the tall branches attached to a model adorned in a high-necked ruched cape, with a raven nestled and arched over the model’s face. From a distance she looked majestic and stag-like, however, up close the image is much more morbid. What seemed most potent about the show, and what made Hogg’s presentation stand out among others at London Fashion Week, was her choice of models. Compared to the archetypal tall, slim physique and chiselled facial features of catwalk models, ‘Diamonds Dogs and Demons’ incorporated an array of unconventional personalities.
‘It girl’ Alice Dellal was juxtaposed with a shorter, petite Red Riding Hood, who again was a stark contrast to the more mature model sporting an eye patch and shaved head. Although on the surface the catwalk seemed to demonstrate an array of misfits, underneath, it exemplified the need to diversify what we see as a typical model. As Hogg herself walked alongside the models during the show’s finale, a standing ovation welcomed her, illustrating a deep and resounding respect for the designer. Noel Fielding remarked after the show, “I’ve been to quite a few of Pam’s shows. I really liked the all-in-ones that she used, but I thought the overall collection was amazing, the green trousers were absolutely stunning. I loved the capes as well; I thought they were quite a lot like the costumes in Lucifer Rising, the Kenneth Anger film. It had that demonic quality to it.”
It is clear that Hogg has successfully united her musical past with Bowie’s unique concept album and transformed it into a theatrical catwalk
phenomenon, while also conveying the message that it’s not always fashionable to be conventional. This reflects a less-exclusive side to London Fashion Week.