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A-COLD-WALL* founder Samuel Ross does not like things to be as they initially seem. Deeper meanings are often obscured, both in the narratives of his experiential shows and in the hidden details buried within his street-luxe garments. His latest Fall/Winter 2019 collection, titled “BIRTH.ORGAN.SYNTH,” is no different.
When costumed dancers-cum-performance artists fought their way through the two tanks of black, shallow water that served as the London Fashion Week show’s backdrop, showgoers — including the designer’s mentor Virgil Abloh — knew Ross would have a meaningful explanation post-show. And he did.
“The dancers represented suppression and the dark water represented the depths of fear. In order to move forward, which is intrinsic to humanity, one must ascend through the darkness,” the 27-year-old designer said after the show, referring to an uncertain zeitgeist that begs the question: What horror comes next?
Human fear, in this case, took the form of a Doberman hound barking at dancers as they moved into the light, represented by a large metal, mirrored obelisk. The performance and collection took six months to create, Ross said.
As for the garments, they were distilled down to the fundamentals that made Ross’ loyal following fall in love with A-COLD-WALL* in the first place. The label’s signature workwear was still present — including staples such as padded, drawstring track pants, logoed canvas outerwear, and protective, utility-pocketed everything — as was an abundance of entry-level scarves, hats, and bags, this time with “MODERN*” displayed across them.
Together with a debut denim partnership with Diesel and three new reiterations of A-COLD-WALL*’s recent sneaker collaboration with Nike, the brand’s young, loyal following sure has something to get excited about.
Yet, what Ross presented this time around felt more mature, too, and that worked in his favor. After all, the designer has never been afraid to go commercial, unlike many of his streetwear peers.
More diverse tailoring, sharply cut outerwear, and vegetable-dyed knitwear were added to the lineup, while logos were downsized — from 5 centimeters to 3.5 centimeters, to be exact. Compasses were hidden within clothing, badges hand-sewn, and raised-rubber logo plaques doubled as fasteners on pants to alter the fit.
“Whereas my last show was really an extraversion, here it’s about creating a symphony of those initial progressions laid down, but made with more sophistication and at a slower pace,” Ross told Highsnobiety. “This collection was really a study of how I can speak to the fashion consumer while keeping my initial [following] involved.”
As the show came to a close, dancers reached the light at last. “They eventually ascend into life,” the designer explained. It gave what was an overall sinister show a hopeful, cathartic ending, as Ross himself, with young daughter Genesis in his arms, walked out to take his final bow. New life indeed.
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