Simply looking at any Matty Bovan show without any context might lead you to think that this is just a kindergarten kid’s school project on crack with the excessive glitter and over-the-top use of tulle, but a closer look will reveal the designer’s secret mastery of his organised mess.
SS24 wasn’t just another collection for the British designer, it was his fifteenth collection rightfully titled “XV.” We all know Bovan is outrageous by nature, but for this collection he chose the most outrageous decades of all to lead his inspirations: the 80s. Think wide shoulders, glitter all over and tulle galore.
The show, which was supported by Tanqueray No. TEN, took place in the Crypt of St Martin’s situated in Trafalgar Square – any dead bodies still lying around would have been immediately brought back to life thanks to Bovan’s flashy designs. The location definitely felt like a strange choice, considering how full of life the Central Saint Martins graduate’s designs are, though it gave for an interesting show layouts where models posed on top of a podium inside a circular glass cage before walking out and making their rounds around the glass.
Ashley Graham opened the event wearing a dress with fuschia tulle, ruched orange fabric, hints of green sparkles with a beige belt to cinch it all together paired with sparkling golden heels and opaque grey tights. We also saw fellow model Winnie Harlow wearing a grey plastic-structured dress covered in a large batch of various fabrics bunched up together in a ruched style, and Julia Fox bestie Richie Shazam wore a what reassembled a period dress with a caged skirt, structurally, adored with heaps and heaps of mismatched fabrics paired with elbow gloves.
In true Matty Bovan fashion, the clothes were a mismatch made in heaven – a “cacophony of monstrous beauty” as Bovan describes it – with clashing colours and fabrics, overloaded as much as the garment would let it. We saw an emphasis on tights this season, some in a solid colour, others featuring abstract patterns while one pair bore an American flag and another babydoll faces. The makeup matched, with models having blue eyeshadow smeared on and off their lids, a colour that continued in some’s hair.
Though behind the tonnes of tulle, literally, was a designer who knew exactly what he was doing. The structure silhouettes peeked through the excess fabric in the shape of corsets, even at times exaggerated by the outer layer we often fixate on. The structure is what holds it all together, both physically and conceptually, as Bovan only shows glimpses of the fact that there is method to his madness.
Bovan isn’t just a designer, but a critical thinker. His choice to focus on the American 80s party dress was at the same time a backbone and a distraction. By chopping up and reconstructing this piece of fashion, Bovan actually created a story of defiance, further exaggerated by the sultry walk of the models despite wearing something that felt juvenile at its essence. He uncovered something much darker of this “fantasy lucid dream of America,” that as much as it tried to be glitter and rainbows on the surface, it is most often not.
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