On my third night of fashion week, down a Soho alleyway, I joined fashionistas who queued both patiently and impatiently by the doors of non-profit members club house of St Barnabas. I became a member just before Christmas, and once I realised it was on the church site of the space, I knew something very special was in store. It’s hard to do justice to describe the presentation of Malan Breton.
It feels unfair, in fact to even call it a presentation, as it felt much more like a cross between a very beautiful dream and an immersive theatrical experience. So much so, that despite waiting nearly ninety minutes to encounter it (being very uncertain I would be able to see it at all), as soon as I entered the church doors, the wait was almost instantly forgotten.
The door-people, understandably overwhelmed by the mass mob of a queue, had the difficult task of keeping the hundreds calm while only able to allow twenty in at a time. Once you had entered, it immediately made sense. This was not a presentation, but another world you were stepping in, and not just another world, but another time, a forgotten time with the most stunning interracial couples wearing perfectly tailored suits and long floating feminine dresses that seemed to have been unfrozen from painted portraits. How long had they been dancing in this church, and were you witnessing the moment just as they fell in love?….(well, for the night anyway).
The score of the evening, “The Caretaker,” an obscure and highly collectable album I myself use in the opening of my show “The Cult of K*NZO”, evoked a strong sense of nostalgia throughout all the rooms. It was impossible to shake the feeling that this was the invite to the kind of parties Gatsby had (…only better behaved). Another reference to 30s and 40s starlets and silent film, was conjured by doe-eyed, kohl lined models holding clapperboards with scene headings for each room. In the lounge area for example, a pair wearing head to toe navy leather seemed frozen in time as they reclined on a chaise lounge.
It was unclear (in a quite magical way) where reception ended and presentation began, as the bar featured a few people who could have been models or guests, but at a second glance, were too immaculately styled to be anything other than models (at least I think). In this fevered sleep of nostalgic fantasies, the finale of the experience took place on the staircase. The cine retro femininity of long floating gowns found its counterpart in a model that dominated the scene with a sensual androgynous aesthetic. I still feel somehow like I had dreamed all of it. It was definitely more than worth the wait.
Words By Paula Varjack
~ Paula Varjack’s show “The Cult of K*nzo” is currently on a nationwide tour that includes Battersea Arts Centre on Saturday 27 April
*All images are sourced from POP PR courtesy of Jaimie Wylie. We are not responsible for the source of the images beyond these entities. Ragged Culture Publishing Ltd does not own these images. All rights reserved.*