Reuben Selby AW22: The Will To Form

For his second London Fashion Week presentation, Reuben Selby raises the stakes and takes over Copeland Gallery to bring us into an immersive world of art and fashion.

Titled ‘THE WILL TO FORM’, Selby takes inspiration from the artwork and experiences of eight artists, asking them to recreate their work studios at Copeland Gallery for a 5-day showcase. Thoroughly unconventional, the experience of walking into these artists’ studios at Copeland Gallery, which become guiding stars for Selby’s collection, ignites many senses.

There’s the smell of fresh paint and mud or dirt which a couple of the artists are using to finish off art they’re working on. The ground is covered with sand in one room and astroturf in another. As I walk through the rooms, these materials are felt underneath my shoes as they provide different surfaces to experience walking on.

Dancers, who have been patiently getting into character as guests are seated, come to life as a bespoke sound score interrupts the welcome playlist we’ve been listening to, and the show begins.

The collection features 17 looks that pay homage to the expressionist group Die Brüke. The colour palette is a base of beige, black, navy blues and greys with the injection of earthy greens and brighter pops of colour.

The clothes serve as a canvas for graphic patterns that mimic paintings, textured knits, distressed seams, jagged contours, and frayed edges represent the gritty, industrial environment the artists worked in, some of whom respond to this in their work. Selby created his own expressionist woodcut print inspired by the Die Brüke group, who had a passion for printmaking, in particular woodcut design. The multidisciplinary designer incorporates the idea that expressionism was a reaction against materialism and rapid mechanisation. It was a powerful mode of social criticism, relatable to each of the 8 Hand-selected artists from ‘THE WILL TO FORM’ concept, provoking them to express their anxieties to the modern world.

The cast features friends and collaborators of Selby’s such as music artist Sainte, editor and model Louie Akinwale, and Contact model TJ Sawyerr who directed the runway show.

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The takeaway from the show is that collaboration and community is key; art informs fashion as fashion informs art, and clothes are a great medium to explore these things through.

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