Leaving a mundane life, corporate power and City dress code was the idea at the core of Claire Barrow’s latest collection ‘High Flyers’, staged at Somerset house in London. “It’s about empowering women,” said Barrow. “The corporate world is creeping into the creative world of London.”
The presentation began with models standing in front of the fans, symbolising female weakness in a corporate workplace, contrasting the youthful freedom and the open-air environment. The air from the fans directed at every model, a flying Icarus-inspired hair and translucent trompe-l’oeil earrings blowing in the wind. Barrow’s amazing illustrations decorated leather, wool, screen-printed silk and cotton, with added accents on knitwear and fur. Subtle details and knife-sharp silhouettes complementing each other revealed the designer’s incredible aesthetics.
The models, representing a feminine freedom of all ages, were freed from the chains of women’s fashion and, therefore, of such attributes of it as heavy make-up, explicitly highlighted gender and sexuality. Indeed, while sex sells, the objectification of body is something to fight with. However, it’s not the only aim of Westminster’s graduate, whose collection rebels against women’s disappearance from the fashion world due to a materialistic side of the business. The venue styled in minimalistic grey proved it.
“This whole office thing is maybe a comment on that,” Barrow said as she signalled to the grey-carpeted show space, “but then there’s [a hybrid between] the outdoors. I’ve moved into a flat where I live and work, and it’s a really modern new build flat. I just see this sort of thing every day – the grey carpet and stuff like that.”
The designer flirted with the idea of chasing corporate power and flying away from it. She was also pondering on the obligations that burden people after acquiring the power and growing older, instead of staying young and being free from the asphalt jungle and the office world.
The themes of restriction and desire of freedom moved from one piece of clothes to the other one, doodling with the screen-printed phone cords. The curl prints were revealed in the winged women’s figures that were settled on the jackets, cloudy faces smiling from leggings and infinite rows of letter decoding into “hello 2015”. Text-wise, in addition to the reference of the year of the present collection, the printed political manifestos were offering to “have a drink of tea or coffee and donate to MP” – an accusation towards political and cultural climate of London with its mundane impositions and the limitations of creativity.
“I like bringing discussion and issues like this forward through the opportunity I have to do projects that people see,” commented the designer after the presentation. “Rather than just making things pretty.”
Claire Barrow’s collection wasn’t “pretty”, but definitely flew high, but not due to the models’ earrings blowing in the breeze, wings presented on the clothes or light-weighted fabric. The ideas of women’s freedom, embodied in the clothing, didn’t melt under the spotlights and sink in the sea of spectators’ looks. They stayed with the audience far after the show ended and not only with the female side of it, inspiring people to think, dream and rebel.