Gareth Pugh (born August 31, 1981) is an English fashion designer. He currently lives and works in Paris.
At 14, Pugh began working as a costume designer for the English National Youth Theatre. He started his fashion education at City of Sunderland College and finished his degree in Fashion Design at Central Saint Martins in 2003. His final collection at St. Martins, which used balloons to accentuate models' joints and limbs (a technique that would become one of his trademarks), attracted that attention of the senior fashion editor of Dazed & Confused magazine, who placed one of his designs on the magazine's cover shortly thereafter.
The rise of !WOWOW!, a feature in Dazed & Confused, and a debut show at London club Kashpoint's Alternative Fashion Week brought Pugh to the attention of Fashion East "London's breeding ground for cutting-edge new talent," leading them to invite Pugh to participate in its Autumn 2005 group show. Pugh had only four weeks, with no studio, no assistants, and little money, to create the collection. His collection ended up a critical success and attracted significant attention to his designs.
During a work placement assisting Rick Owens at luxury furrier Revillon, Pugh met Michelle Lamy, the Parisian fashion consultant largely responsible for the commercial ascent of the Owens label. In the Autumn of 2006, Lamy became official backer to Pugh, their collaboration marking a more luxurious direction in his work with the introduction of cashmere, leather and mink to collections. Pugh’s designs such as his famous inflated balloon garments are inspired by shape, proportion and process. He has shown at London Fashion Week as part of Fashion East and was awarded New Generation sponsorship to show in Autumn/Winter 2006. Pugh has collaborated with magazines including Arena Homme+, Self Service, CENT, i-D and Dazed & Confused. In 2004, Pugh’s ‘inflatable creatable’ installation was chosen as the sculptural centre piece for a Dazed & Confused exhibition showcasing designers including Stella McCartney, D&G and Hussein Chalayan. Pugh also regularly works with Judy Blame, who designs exclusive jewellery pieces to accompany his collections. In 2008, Pugh received the ANDAM prize, and began to show in Paris from the S/S 2009 season. Pugh’s designs are stocked in Side by Side in Japan, Seven and Opening Ceremony in New York, and in London by Browns and Dover Street Market.
The designer continues to rise through the fashion world’s ranks. Since January 2009, there is a rumour circulating that Gareth Pugh was approached by the LVMH group to replace Kris Van Asche at the artistic head of Dior for men.
Pugh was describes as the "latest addition to a long tradition of fashion-as-performance-art that stretches back through Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and Vivienne Westwood to the eighties club culture of Leigh Bowery." (Pugh, however, dismisses frequent Bowery comparisons as "lazy journalism.") Klaus Nomi has also been suggested as an influence on Pugh. Pugh's collections are autobiographical rather than referential, and draw inspiration from Britain's extreme club scene. Pugh's trademark is his experimentation with form and volume. He often uses "nonsensically shaped, wearable sculptures" to "distort the human body almost beyond recognition." Elements in his designs include PVC inflated into voluminous coats, black and white patchwork squares, Perspex discs linked like chain mail, and shiny latex masks and leggings; he has used materials including mink, parachute silk, foam footballs, afro-weave synthetic hair, and electrically charged plastic in his clothing. Pugh describes his designs as being "about the struggle between lightness and darkness."
Kylie Minogue, Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Ashlee Simpson, Jade Smith,