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Claire Barrow’s Spring / Summer 2016 collection has a serious underlying message beneath the immediately impressive aesthetic featuring her signature illustrations, consisting of disfigured faces and cats. Taking the topic of a generation way too reliant on information technology, she presents a premonition of what society might look like if it were all to be taken away. It’s not bright.

Models are situated in London’s ICA basement, draped around a heavy black material, instantly creating an eerie setting. They look sullen, expressionless. She casts her models using ‘bands we like, or people we see on the street’, so they do not all have the typically required features or figures. This sets the scene for the clothes themselves. Barrow plays on the idea that things are far from perfect; baby pink dresses are tainted with what look like dying oysters. There are distressed denims, frayed edges and opposing fabrics. Carnal crossover lace ups and leather. The models reinforce the almost uncomfortable atmosphere, tapping percussively on homemade steel instruments with creepy synthetic hands. Barrow suggests that the contrast of the irregular sounds to the silky drape of material is a ‘complement to the collection’. In fact, one could look at the entirety of the collection as perhaps symbolic of our lack of grip on reality due to the virtual world. In any case, everything nods to a rather dystopian future. Through the clothes themselves, the backdrop and the sounds, the designer accurately manages to depict that anxious feeling we get when there isn’t access to the Internet. Ironic then, that the media instantaneously took pictures of the collection to upload straight to their Instagrams.

Jessie Gardiner

Pictures: Olesya Asanovar

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