In the six years since Samuel Ross founded A-Cold-Wall *, the London-based label has built a solid reputation for several things: a contemplative and sculptural approach to men’s fashion; high-level shows that merge the worlds of fashion and performance art; and, at the heart of it all, a very good functional ready-to-wear. Two things he’s perhaps less known for, however, are the bright pops of color and fading curtains – right down to his SS22 collection, which was shown at Milan Fashion Week yesterday, that is.
Indeed, while these might not be things we expected from Samuel, this is the very reason why it makes sense that he chose to finalize them now. It’s a natural progression of the trajectory he’s set over the past half-decade, stretching beyond the territory of conceptually-minded streetwear – of which he was and still is an effective prince – towards tailoring, casual wear and reassuring knits in earthy, neutral tones. tones.
Through the constant diversification of its design language, A-Cold-Wall * has essentially reached a point where it appeals to a diverse audience that wants different things. This is something Samuel became fully aware of last week when he released the lookbook for his pre-collection SS22. While one segment of its audience was thrilled to see the collection of wearable technical jackets, shorts and jerseys in dark washes and bright citrus hues, another was missing for another side of the brand.
âFunny,â says Samuel, âI was reading comments from people saying things like, ‘Argh, the pre-collection is too portable! We want crazy conceptual forms back! ‘ , Mostly from people who may not fully understand that pre-collections are generally more commercially biased than the more concept-oriented main collections.
Luckily for them, that was exactly what Samuel was in the mood for this season. âI’ve spent the last two and a half years focusing on creating great ready-to-wear,â he says, âand I’m ready to start bringing that conceptual spirit back now that the signatures of the ready-to-wear. to-wear are in place. â, Resulting in an SS22 collection which hybridized the different approaches of which he has pioneered over the years. Featured in a cinematic short on the Milan Fashion Week men’s program, it skillfully fused the brand’s technical balance with a more emotional aesthetic sensibility, producing shell-shaped vests, tulip-shaped ponchos and balaclavas and wraparound underwear – clothes that implied a sense of protection from the harshness of the world in its present state. The sense of apprehension they expressed, however, was undermined by Samuel’s palette – think volt greens, citrus yellows, cobalt blue, traffic cone oranges – permeating the collection with a sense of d optimism that burst across the screen.
âThose rich neon greens and yellows are almost the opposite of what you think of when you hear A-Cold-Wall *,â says Samuel, noting his eagerness to continue to reshuffle his approach in order to maintain the vibrancy with which he drew. first makes his name. âIt’s about this idea of âârecontortion and shattering the expectations of the brand. It’s now in its sixth year, and I think you need to think about how you can deconstruct and move forward. Here Samuel tells us exactly how he does it.
Let’s start with the four terms that serve as the conceptual axis of the collection: âmovementâ, âformâ, âoscillateâ and âconvergeâ.
I think when it comes to having four words that set the tone for the collection, it’s really about looking at the larger thoughts and themes that influenced it, and summing them up at times. keys that can be chosen. âFormâ and âconvergenceâ really boils down to the idea that cocooning, concealing and covering the body can also be forms of expression in the context of a global pandemic. It’s about diverting attention from the more utilitarian or militaristic tones and shapes that have been associated with A-Cold-Wall *, and moving to shapes that are much more ergonomic, tolerant and comfortable. ‘Motion’ is really about layering an athletic emphasis on technical materials with the more conceptual forms that are offered here. And all in all, there has been this attempt to create a sense of buoyancy between deep expression and color saturation, which conveys a very distinct optimism, and the idea of ââconcealing the body, which usually has more connotations. negative – protect the wearer from war. , injury or illness, for example. It has been an exercise to add a layer of color and tone to these shapes to create a space for positive expression when we are going through such a difficult time.
There is a very strong focus on drape this season, which we haven’t seen a lot of you before. What motivated you to take this direction?
It was really important to ensure that the spirit of A-Cold-Wall * continued to move forward, especially now that we have developed such an understanding of ready-to-wear. This idea of ââlooser, softer shapes that completely transform how matter works on the body was really interesting this season. The time we all spent hiding our faces and bodies really got me thinking about how there are some parts of the body that are usually not highlighted, but can also give shape and form. incredibly interesting. In the first look, for example, you can see how the forearms come out of that tulip-shaped closure just below the biceps, and placing an opening across the chest looks more natural and cocoon-like; more and organic. There is a much more emotional texture to these more draped shapes compared to shapes that were perhaps slightly more abrasive before.
You mentioned the importance of ergonomics, and even looking at it on a screen, it seems like a really tactile collection. What guided your choice of textiles and textures?
The focus was on weight and how different weights of materials can actually oscillate and coexist – from truly fine durable lycra composites for base layer garments to Dyneema-backed eco-leather. It was also about making sure that there was always a layer of durability in the fabrics and techniques we worked with without losing the sense of innovation and material development for which we are known. We were also thinking about what people need now in terms of portability. I love nylons so they’re always in the spotlight, but there’s also a push towards knits, weaves, and athletic loungewear. I also captured a lot more of my personal preferences, for example thinking about color theory and how it could be used for the brand. Until this season we’ve really only done muted, industrial tones, but what you see here almost sounds like a sort of postmodern optimism – it’s like after WWII, when there was this huge wave of artistic expression. This is a bit like how I treat this collection.
In the video, you showcased your pre-collection and your main SS22 collection together. What is behind this decision?
This is the first time that I’ve had time to really think about how I want A-Cold-Wall * to exist in a video format, beyond the track. The advantage of a runway show is that you have 25 to 30 models who can present your clothes to a fixed audience in a fixed space. Here, however, the idea of ââbringing the two collections together was almost to project what A-Cold-Wall * looks like from 9am in the office until 7pm. It was about continuing to comment on the themes of movement and displacement, filming from those bird’s-eye angles and almost painting images of people somehow fused together, overlapping and swaying. Another key goal was to really give the impression of an entire wardrobe – we had about 12 models on set, and we had the overlapping mixed looks to illustrate the relationship between the two collections – to arbitrate on those. two spaces as distinct entities, while bringing these worlds together.
What emotional atmosphere were you trying to create with the film?
It was not necessarily a particular emotion; it was more of a cinema feeling. I was telling some team members that this collection is the close cousin to our SS19 show, in terms of how it felt when that naked red body burst out of the pool and pushed this frame out the door. I really thought about how to create that at the same time as creating this heavy sense of oversight with a spirit of optimism, and how to bring it into 2021 – because we can’t just repeat what we’ve done. in 2019. We wanted to do this while making sure that the elements of performance, or a particular emotional state, didn’t detract from the clothes. It was really about making sure there was enough space for the clothes to breathe.