Dear Shaded Viewers and Diane,
England must be on the mind of London’s designers, what with its fate now so unsure: after ASAI yesterday morning, Matty Bovan too turned his fall 2019 show into ‘an exploration of Englishness’. Liberty had invited him to their archives, where he selected the Tana Lawn pattern to sow on shirts and drapery – but to think of England now, one can’t get away with florals and lawns. Something more savage seeks taking shape. Still, for feeling better when things are bad, we can always think back to when things were worse: and if no one will ever call Matty Bovan’s work traditional, it is true that there’s often in his designs a trace of something forgone, not quite old but ancient, primordial. Here comes with furs on naked skin, when knits thick as rugs are worn as capes. But this time a more precise, prim and proper historicity found its place in the collection too. Puritan necklines and shoulder frills, corsetry, cascading layers of full skirts. Bovan had been researching the Pendle witches’ trials of 1612 in Lancashire, which would account for some of it, and for the shows’ atmosphere of sinister unrest – a strident soundtrack, the sceptres and the talismans, the prints of dragons, waxed fabrics etched with nails. We hear that paganism is on the rise among the youth once more: here’s a collection swollen with spells and foam, fit for the times when civility fails.