Art School’s SS21 collection is named ‘Therapy’, perhaps what we all need after this year of lockdowns and hibernation. The collection was presented through a runway film (socially distanced – of course), set in Waterlow Park’s Kitchen Garden, Highgate. This is Art School’s largest collection to date, with 54 looks and a cast of diverse models, all draped in dark monochrome tones.
Three Different Takes
The collection was divided into three different sections, each providing a different take on the dark tones – green, grey and black. Not your typical spring/summer palette. ‘The sections reflect aspects of queerness and play on themes of community and kinship. Art School is informed and inspired by each member of the cast and celebrates difference, beauty of the body in process’.
Art School takes on the topic of ‘dismantling and questioning the normative of physically able body’. This is a topic that is yet to be explored by most major brands. Ask yourself, when was the last time you saw a disabled person on the runway? There are 2 billion disabled people in the world – 37.5% of the population. So why are they constantly under-represented? Art School states that ‘disabled identity is a unique source for creation and beauty’.
Gender Neutral, Oversized and Sustainable
Tailoring is a heavy presence within the collection; oversized looks that are tightly cinched at the waists feature often. ‘The silhouettes equally emphasize the importance and restriction of movement and physical space’. Ironic, as the importance of space is absolutely one thing we have all learned this year. Each look is also gender-neutral, much like a uniform, to ‘offer protection’ to the wearer.
Interestingly, Art School opted for vegetable dyes to create the dark colors, an every popular theme as we shift into a sustainable mindset. The leather coats are also created from reconstituted cowhides. Silk also features within dresses and suit jackets, but these have been slashed and frayed to expose layers of skin – contrasting some of the bulkier tailoring looks.
Creative Collab With Artist Richard Porter
Artist Richard Porter’s jewellery and wearable sculptures are included in the looks – as a reference to ‘themes of preservation and memory.’ The idea of toys within the collection is to build on the idea that they ‘play an important role in the resolution of conflict and at times help us to unravel complex ideas and histories.’ This concept also feels very timely; this collection seems to mirror how we are feeling after lockdown is (perhaps) beginning to lift. Using colors and sculpture to capture the anxiousness of a generation, unsure of the future and feeling stuck in time.‘Each piece tells us about the desire to communicate something to a world that is yet unknown.’
A Topical Collection
‘Therapy’ seems to encapsulate the stasis we are all in – ‘a way to connect and grasp the past and future’. This metaphor for our uncertain lives is refreshing – yes, it is scary right now, but Art School reminds us that we are all feeling it. We are united in this mess; we will make it through together.