Gareth Pugh burst onto the scene in 2005, straight out of fashion school and living in a London squat. The young designer instantly attracted the UK’s top fashion publications, who latched onto Pugh like a tumor. His first shows featured inflatable outfits and light-strewn garments, impressing the under-25 set and perplexing the over-30 crowd.
Six years later, Pugh’s dark, avant-garde aesthetic has infiltrated fashion. His line garners attention usually reserved for the old guard. We recently spoke with the busy designer about his rapid rise, creative process, and life in the fashion spotlight.
On His Early Struggles
Pugh went years without steady income or his parents’ full support. “If I hadn’t done all that I wouldn’t be here,” he says. While stressful, Pugh took things day by day: “Don’t worry about what’s next.”
On His Design Process
For Pugh, it’s about expressing what’s inside through aesthetics, not therapy. He doesn’t overthink or try to intellectualize his work. “It wasn’t until two years after she wrote her songs that [PJ Harvey] understood them,” he notes.
On Dealing with Expectations
With success comes pressure to deliver. “People expect an amazing show, but in order to do that in Paris you have to sell a lot of clothes,” Pugh explains. He finds film provides an outlet to explore pure aesthetics and stay sane.
On Color and Shape
Pugh favors black for its power in highlighting bold silhouettes. But he incorporates an Yves Klein blue this season, along with black and gold. The collection also features triangular shapes, which Pugh calls “the strongest.”
On Rick Owens
Though both push boundaries, Pugh sees big differences between their aesthetics. Owens “rips things apart” with a raw, organic feel. Pugh prefers “polishing something and making it as shiny as possible.”
On Normal Life
Despite the glamour, Pugh tries to stay grounded: “Doing really normal stuff is like a break for me.” He enjoys relaxing with his boyfriend and watching soaps on TV. But Pugh admits he rarely feels free from the pressures of fashion.