I’m England ‘Till I Die

It’s no secret that I’m into football.  Specifically, Arsenal.  I’m not into it to keep the boyfriend happy because he is also a hardcore football fan, but I’m into it because it’s a this perfect counterfoil to what I do in fashion.  It’s where you can immerse yourself in a tribe-based culture that is ardent, addictive and without a doubt, more passionate than even the most rabid of fashion fervour.  You go to matches.  You scream.  You swear.  You cry.  Your emotional journey can oscillate from ecstatic jubilation to gut-wrenching disappointment within a ninety minute time frame.  And then that’s extended as you follow your team through the season, enduring and enjoying the highs and the lows.  Fashion of course has those highs and lows but the instances where it produces as extreme or visceral a reaction as seen at a football match, are alas, few and far between.

To illustrate my footie meets fashion love-in, yesterday I was in red and white as of course any self-respecting Gooner should be, augmented with a touch of pink thanks to Simone Rocha’s delicious S/S 15 frock.  The scarf wasn’t worn just for warmth.  Arsenal were playing (we won 2:1 if anybody cares to know).

IMG_5488Photograph by Ben Ramshaw – Wearing Tome jacket, Nike waterproof, Simone Rocha dress, Simone Rocha shoes and an Arsenal scarf

instasimoneSimone Rocha veil meets Gooner scarf

Why all the footie talk?  Gareth Pugh’s grandiose epic of a homecoming last night held in the V&A’s Raphael Room had chants from his hometown Sunderland Football Club.  Distorted and warped by Pugh’s longtime sound collaborator Matthew Stone, it could have been any football club chant.  In my head, it went like this: “And it’s Arsenal.  Arsenal FC.  Are by far the greatest team.  The world has ever seen.”

It was but one reference in Pugh’s poignant and powerful collection.  The central protagonist was a Britannia-esque warrior anointed with a blood red St George’s Cross, ready to do battle.  Fervour.  Incidentally, at the top of the catwalk behind the LED screen where Ruth Hogben’s accompanying film played out, there’s an altarpiece of St George, depicting him slaying the dragon and his martyrdom.  St George.  Sacrificing yourself for your country.  Fervent nationalism.  Football culture.  All of these things fed into a collection that revisited Pugh’s volumes in black but they felt even more annunciated in this room especially when models wore leather breastplates, furry helmets and spiked out textures made entirely out of black straws in reference to a dragon’s scales.  That was also a nod to Pugh’s DIY couture past and the very beginnings of his career in London.  I remember standing eagerly at those shows with my heart palpitating as each look came out.  Here it was much the same but instead of rowdy club kids cheering, it was the formidable fashion establishment witnessing an elevated incarnation of Pugh.

Probe deeper and you wind up asking yourself what Pugh was trying to say about those aforementioned references.  Pugh was adamant that it wasn’t about being needlessly aggressive.  There was a darkness of course, especially when one thinks about what those red crosses would mean to say, the English Defence League or extreme Ing-gur-lund football hooligans.  It felt more like an cultural fascination on Pugh’s part.  He was probing without criticising.  He was tapping into the alchemy of what happens when a group of people get together and get roused and riled up to fight and chant for your “team” be it country or club.

Who knew that years of frequenting Arsenal matches (I used to waitress at the old Highbury ground) would help me understand a Gareth Pugh show?

























With thanks to Mercedes-Benz for providing transportation

19 Replies to “I’m England ‘Till I Die”

  1. I can relate – as an Arsenal/Paris Saint Germain supporter/Fashion student and enthusiast myself – the Footballista keeps the Fashionista grounded! x

  2. I really enjoyed Gareth Pugh’s collection – not because I enjoy dark rebellions, but because it was consistent and powerful in the revolutionary feeling it gave off. It transported (at least from my computer screen) and encouraged me, which should be the goal of any runway show.
    (And it’s soooo nice to see the collection from different angles in your photos, rather than the straight view I normally get from Vogue or Style.com; it’s almost like I’m at the show myself!)

  3. You could buy several season tickets with your outfit…while most Arsenal fans struggle to afford one. Cringeworthy, to be honest.

    1. You know you have to be on a waiting list to get one, right? It’s not exactly something money can buy automatically… and in any case, I’m not here to say it’s a crime to indulge in both fashion and football – are you?

      1. Being on the waiting list doesn’t change the fact that there are many Arsenal fans who struggle to afford it. There are many Arsenal fans for whom a ticket to a single match is a fortune which they had to save up for.

        1. I’m not denying nor disputing that but I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make. Is it that you feel people who are privileged to afford designer clothes shouldn’t be into football or attend the matches? Is it that they’re less of a fan because they happen to like/buy designer clothes? In any case, your comments seem unrelated to the post in question – I was using my love of football to relate to a fashion show that was themed around the tribe-like following of sport or a nation. I wasn’t passing any comment about the affordability of football (although I do think Arsenal is incredibly expensive as football clubs go).

          1. The point is that this post reminds me of those WAGs who come to the matches with a pair of Louboutins and a Birkin.

          2. Wow real inclusive. So you’re saying a woman wearing Louboutins shouldn’t go to football matches?! I will wear what I like and support my football team simultaneously if it’s okay by you.

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