Designers, like you and me, have all been affected by the repercussions of the global pandemic. Their livelihoods stopped, as nowhere to go means no need to dress up. The previous fashion seasons once rolled into one another, designers and ateliers alike churning out collections to fit the times. What happens when time stops? When fashion is no longer under pressure, no longer defined by a stopwatch or calendar?
What happens is a ‘rehearsal’ to life; such is the way of Richard Malone’s newest collection. Conceived from the deepest quiet of lockdown, Malone takes to the idea of clothes rendered entirely abstract – props for life reimagined.
Until this moment, Malone, like many before, designed for real life. Yet, when real life grinds to a halt, a chance to just rehearse comes our way. Explore the now with the armoury of gorgeous, weighty, almost-upholstered, substantial evening wear.
The collection is sewn together with ochre bouclé tailoring; silver blue crushed velvet blouses; silk-like wool crepe. Malone describes the collection as ‘borderline hysterical, high drama for an appointment with no-one’.
There are two books Malone credits as having remained within reach throughout the design process: I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid, and Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s A Ghost in the Throat. Both works deal with a contortion and curvature of time; Ní Ghríofa’s powerful prose debut exploring two poets from distant centuries (1700s, and present day) reaching out across worlds to one another. Iain Reid’s chilling, already-cult thriller rattles through an unnerving journey in which characters inexplicably age. This sense of the surreal manifests as hyperextended proportions – exaggerated shoulders as if fixed in a permanent, peculiar shrug – dramatic drapery and rounded, cushion-y hips.
And so, despite the wider world inciting a feeling of potential uselessness for those who deal in fashion – Malone’s signature realness ultimately stands firm. A significant portion of the collection is formed of Irish linens and past-season off-cuts; the velvets were hand-washed by his own hand (in his own bath, no less). Malone’s intention remains to gently, generously educate audiences around new possibilities in fashion.