urprise is the reoccurring theme in Melbourne-based menswear label Pageant, and it is definitely the good kind. Amanda Cumming and Kate Reynolds make up the duo responsible for the kind of garments that will send your eyes into a joyful delirium.
This fashion twosome met in art school and went on to complete a Bachelor of Fashion Design at RMIT University together. The girls have worked as assistants for PAM (Perks and Mini) and as stylists and costume designers on Cut Copy and Midnight Juggernauts music videos. Reynolds and Cumming also spent two years in London working for several labels including Tim Soar, Christopher Kane, Cassette Playa and Christopher Shannon. Their technical and creative skills are nothing short of impressive.
We are all familiar the concept of men designing clothes for women, and sisters doing it for themselves, but what happens when girls do it for the boys? According to Pageant, it means a sensational breakthrough in menswear design.
The principle revelation proposed by the label is in the designers’ use of unlikely fabrics, which makes their Japanese fabric supplier skeptical and leaves their buyers thunderstruck. Cumming and Reynolds’ fabric manipulation transforms potentially tacky textures into alluring aesthetic statements. For example, their current Autumn/Winter 2012 collection, Wet Dream, features a quilted tracksuit and puffer-scarves. A glimpse at these from afar will encourage you to investigate the pieces up close.
Wet Dream features a number of these unpredictable fabric choices and shiny numbers, which are cleverly combined with polo shirts, sweat pants and shorts, as well as classic pieces such as shirts, turtlenecks, leggings and sweaters. Some items are simple and practical. Others are bigger, bulkier statement pieces. But ultimately, it feels sporty, comfortable and most definitely not for the fainthearted in fashion.
Reynolds and Cumming feel that by being women making menswear, they are allowing themselves an objective perspective on their work. This separation of the self supplements their selfless dedication to the label, thus increasing the expectation of success. The designers also enjoy the simplicity of menswear and the idea that it does not change as fast as women’s trends. They argue that, generally speaking, “Boys will only buy a couple of pieces in a season and wear them until they fall apart.” This is an idea that the Reynolds and Cummings appreciate and practice themselves, because “Clothes are meant to be worn and loved.”
Pageant’s Spring/Summer 2013 collection is in the pipeline, so prepare yourselves for a colour palette reminiscent of ice cream, cakes and other favourite desserts. The near future is all about pastels and colour blocking, employing the reverse side of a devore print to give the feeling of faded, bleached fabrics and white enamel buttons, detailing playfully designed pieces. It’s an intently visual experience, and one we haven’t seen before.
Pageant is showing at MSFW’s Tomorrow’s Heroes Runway show. The girls are also exhibiting their work in The Artist is Present (with a t-shirt) at Rear View Gallery opening on Friday the 7th September.
Pageant is stocked exclusively at FAT in Melbourne.