For SS16 Claire Barrow has once again created a completely immersive and eerie world in which to reflect on and confront the fears of our own. ‘Broken Machines’, conjures a world in which technology has broken down and died out, leaving our tech-reliant society in darkness.
At the Institute of Contemporary Arts, in a dark, silk strewn room, civilians of the new world sit among crude metallic instruments, and disembodied pieces of arms, legs and hands. Some appear broken down themselves, looking like half-people with black satin swallowing part of their bodies. The music the models produce with their unpredictable instruments, along with live music from Owen Pratt and Rishi Shah, is ghostly noise from the now dead tech world, as electromagnetic interference permeates the space.
The collection itself is made up of chaotic clashes of texture and colour; delicate pink slips and fresh linen are placed next to sharp grey suits and bright blue leather, appearing to be a concoction of clothing discarded in the fall, and picked up by those left behind. Necklaces made up of twisted, coiled leather and near melting – yet beautiful – leather handbags accompany the looks.
The jersey bodies, corseted crotches and richly textured ruffles are almost memorial tapestries, acting as physical reminders of the previous world and decorated with symbols of a simpler time – human faces, musical instruments and pieces of old machines.
Despite the grimness of this future world, there is a feeling of optimism blossoming out of the chaos, expressing itself through the bright and luxurious pink gowns, and painted flora and fauna daubed on delicate knee high socks and tights.
Claire Barrow’s artful and subversive work, as always, has left a deep impression, and her latest collection leaves us all wanting to live for the next darkly imagined future.
Words by Georgia Haire