Dear Shaded Viewers and Diane,
Yesterday evening at the Holy Trinity Church in Marylebone, Aitor Throup presented a self-portrait in three acts. I’ve seldom seen more thrilled a crowd making their way to church: we all were trying not to get our hopes up, but his name on schedule, and a show titled THE RITE OF SPRING / SUMMER / AUTUMN / WINTER seemed to suggest a periodicity in Aitor’s work that would have been both very new and very welcome. Turns out, we weren’t wrong – the designer does plan to ease his way into the system of seasons, he later assured backstage, right now when more brands are starting to question them. There’s a ceremonial power in seasons, after all, that you could almost guess might appeal to him. Of course, he won’t do it the traditional way, instead with a new business model that will allow him to still create one-off prototypes, to be sold as artworks, which will later be commercialised and made available for the masses. If our hopes for the future were tentative, though, our expectation for Aitor’s new work couldn’t have been higher, nor any more equally, more perfectly met by the first six such archetypes that we saw last night. Now remember, they are a self-portrait: but not one taken at any given time, nor intended as a synthesis of Aitor’s previous work, though much of his past is still clearly in there. Rather, they are the representation in form of silhouette, of the designer at a moment of epiphany. And we’re talking a very specific moment too – it was 22:30 on the 13th of February, in 2015. Up until then, Aitor had reached an impasse. “I really believe in this idea that it’s morally and philosophically wrong to just put stuff out there, no one needs another hoodie” he says. At the same time, he felt weighted down by the complex narratives we’ve come to know him by, and didn’t want to “create another hermetically sealed concept that would give me the ability to justify myself”. But that night he realised that the designs on their own could become his reason for doing anything, and “this was so liberating. I became a different person. Now I have a new point of view on menswear. These are the type of garments I’ve wanted to make all my life”. It’s this death by concept and rebirth as product, that the three acts of his show expressed. Firstly with a prelude, Sculptural Reception / The Resting of the Past: four life casts of the designer’s body, each wearing familiar garments from previous projects, were painted white and laid out in a pile at the entrance of the church. Next, the three acts: Death and Rebirth, Confidence and Epiphany and Unblocking and Aspirations: Ego Death. Five masked performers, also in white, walked barefoot to a big white box set mid-aisle. It rose, and a human-sized black puppet was revealed to be lying down beneath, which the puppeteers strenuously began to move with stiff sticks. By the time they’d walked it out, and a new one had been walked in from behind the curtains, this already seemed lighter, walked easier, and white accents gradually started to soften its monochrome attire. Number five, now totally white, was lit from within in the shadows. As it stopped in front of the audience, something exploded in its chest, a small, violent, violet cloud. The last puppet wore the only other bit of colour we got to see, in the shape of a new New Object Research logo and a handful of flowers. As they exploded, too, the puppet grew lighter still: it walked out mid-air, higher up than its puppeteers behind. Flowers and logo had been hand-drawn by Aitor’s own daughter.