LFW SS13: Manuela Dack show at Freemason Hall
It was a hot day in the capital. I’d lost my photographer and then found him again. We shouted and swore in the heat, before accepting joint responsibility. We were late. Tentatively approaching Freemason’s Hall, I realised the unsavoury looks the door staff were giving us, as it slowly dawned on them that we would request entrance. For some reason, I didn’t really think that this would be an issue. I looked like shit, and smelled bad too. I had never been to anything like this, and didn’t really know what to expect.
Our names were on the list, and we made our way through. The building is insane, all geometry and faint smells of seedy rituals. Huge portraits of people I couldn’t place, that presumably somebody finds tasteful. We stumbled into the designated room, two banks of seats sat opposite each other, a square walkway with an unsettling centrepiece of mirrors and flowers. Intimate, but garish. There is palpable tension in the faces of the crowd, like someone is late. Everyone looked so clean. Models begin to walk out. A series of simple whites but shiny like a bleach-clean futurist disco. They line up once they have walked a full square with the crowd, arm to arm near the entrance. Atmospheric electronica was being played by My Panda Shall Fly, who incidentally was wearing an excellent excessively baggy black tee with a green, cyclops version of Bart Simpson’s face on it. Four models move to the front then disperse and empty. The models look glum, but this is considered a good thing by the poker-faced crowd. A woman in the front row leans over to her boyfriend, pointing out an aspect of a dress. He nods vacantly while I suspect he was having a sly glance at some side-boob.
The sixth model to emerge brings the first colour change. A dress that looks like it’s made out of coloured string. A near-Abrahamic sheen in the faces of the models. The collection hints at orientalism in its simplicity, the women look strong.
A silver sheen dress. Lots of open backs. Emperor’s new clothes. A shirt that I have since seen described as a ‘fringed tee’, but to me looked like confetti. Every press member in their Sunday best. A few over-dressed children look on, well behaved but hiding sentiments of bafflement politely.
I began to stop focusing so much on the clothes, and more on the people, the building, the glue-like feeling that everyone was getting some kind of ritualistic buzz from this event. The masonic setting suddenly becomes incredibly relevant as the music climaxes. Perhaps people who say they don’t ‘get’ fashion are a bit like those that blindly denounce conceptual art. If nothing else, there’s an astounding sense of spectacle in this bizarre building. The ceilings are really high in every room, allowing for a limitless capacity in which the bubble will never burst.
The models re-emerge and circle the centre piece like tadpoles swirling around a basin before falling through the plug hole. Rapturous applause ensues. I’m not sure what just happened.
Words: Robert Greer
Photos: Joshua Eiffel