LFW: Anya Hindmarch S/S/ 2017

Anya Hindmarch S/S 17
Anya Hindmarch Spring/Summer 2017. Photo credit: Marcus Tondo

There is never an easy way to describe an Anya Hindmarch presentation. Easily the most artistic and theatrical presentation of London Fashion Week, we anticipate these shows with no small amount of glee as we anticipate the wonders with which she presents her handbags.

That’s right, handbags. If it were anyone else, we would yawn and sleep an extra hour. This is Anya Hindmarch, as much an artist as she is a designer. Her shows are not a mere runway presentation, but a work of performance art. Each season, she comes to us with a new installation that wows and excites in ways that mere handbags alone could never do. Sure, we notice the handbags. We see this season is that she uses interconnected circles in a way she describes as the “leatherwork equivalent of a mathematical equation.”  Since I’m really bad at math, I’m all the more impressed.

Let’s see if I can describe this presentation to you:

Imagine walking into a large room where the elevated seating is arranged to form a very large circle. Your printed guide tells you the name of the presentation is Circulus. It also warns you that strobe lights will be used during the presentation. In the center of the room is what appears to perhaps be a circular stage. You note, however, the poles attaching the stage to the ceiling. You wonder about their purpose: do they light up? Might something descend from them?  This is Anya Hindmarch, so we have to expect anything that might be possible.

The blue lights that have been present while everyone is seated dim and white light takes their place. The “stage” in the center of the room begins to rise. As it does, we see a massive white spiral reaching downward. At the center of the depressed  spiral is a single model in a salmon-colored coat. She slowly begins to ascend the spiral. As she does, other models begin to appear along the upper perimeter. They walk around the circle, pause for a photo, then exit.

This continues for the next several minutes. Once the model in the center reaches the top, a section of the spiral, which can look like a giant staircase, a portion of the spiral recedes and out walk three more models. They ascend the spiral like a staircase and make their walk around the circle. This happens more than once.

As this is taking place, the elevated top tilts and changes color, illuminating the presentation space in interesting and unique ways. All this is set to very ethereal, space-like music. The effect is both calming and disturbing at the same time. Is this the future?

As the last model exits, the section of the spiral recedes again and all the models return at the center. They walk up the stairs, circle, then retreat to the center. Slowly, the top comes down over them, sealing them in the recess below.

That’s about the best I can do with words. I have to say this show always makes for a most interesting start to a Sunday in London. I’m going to have more coffee now, perhaps a pastry, and sit and contemplate what it is we’ve just seen. This really wasn’t a fashion presentation. This was a work of art.

By the way, Ms. Hindmarch also curated the current exhibit of contemporary art for Sotheby’s, London. The exhibit runs through tomorrow with an auction of the works tomorrow evening. If you’re in the area, you might want to stop by.

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