Generally, the formula for catwalk shows during London Fashion Week rarely differs; lights dim, music blares, models walk … if the collection is amazing then it all makes for good viewing, but in general it can get pretty repetitive.
Then every once a while, a designer with an eccentric and theatrical bent comes along to remind us exactly how spectacular, artistic and rebellious the world of fashion can be. Boundaries must be broken; McQueen was a master at it, but this year the prize for the most memorable, exciting and elating showcase went to Ziad Ghanem’s creative masterpiece ‘Never Ends, Never Ends, Never Ends.’
The London-based Lebanese kitsch couturist opened his show in typical eccentric style; dark, dramatic and demonic. A ghoulish woman clad in a magnificent ruffled black gown with skull-like makeup slowly took to the catwalk, unfurling her huge green feathered fans like wings she rose up on stilts to tower over a riveted audience, who were cheering from the off.
Then to the soundtrack of Personal Jesus, which began in a delicate instrumental version before descending into outright pumping rock, off-the-wall, gender-bending, beautiful mayhem ensued. Men with devilish joker-style faces and black lips stormed the catwalk, clad in elaborately folded capes of Moroccan crepe with protruding shark fins, etched with neon Japanese symbols.
Both male and female models walked in tight, form-hugging dresses of white silk with black embroidery, shimmering gold and bright fuchsia Duchess satin with a mix of deep v-necks and corsets showing off voluptuous curves and heaving bosoms, emitting a rich sensuality.
Black and white gothic-inspired pieces gave way to long, floating, ethereal gowns in hues of blue, pink, violet and grey, decorated with intricate beadwork. Flowing silk sleeves and column dresses were decorated in a unique print depicting giant birds of prey.
In a startling display of showmanship, ballet-style pieces were shown off to their greatest advantage as models glided, danced and pirouetted up and down the catwalk, with layers of chiffon and silk billowing in their wake.
Dramatic make-up individualised every look, with faces masked in rich hues of colours corresponding to the more vibrant outfits, while Day of the Dead skull-like masks characterised the darker side of the collection.
A bride and groom decked in black veils of gauze and intricate headdresses solemnly marched down the aisle, scattering their captivated congregation with dead rose petals. To conclude, a huge lady in swathes of grey and intricately embroidered flowers sashayed down the catwalk to a furore of applause.
For his stunning creations Ghanem took inspiration from the horror video game “Silent Hill”, the work of painter John-Henry Fuseli and the movie “Black Swan”, delivering a collection which was both sumptuous and beautifully crafted, and packaged in the most exciting and captivating presentation I’ve ever seen on a catwalk.