Forgotten Peacock



Concept, Direction and Design by takis

Choreography by Angela Towler & Martin Joyce

Sound Design by Gareth Fry

Video Projection Design by Mesmer

Lighting Design by Jonathan Samuels

The Brunswick


16 October - 29 November, 2008



ary Couzens

A review by Alice McKenzie for EXTRA! EXTRA!


For anyone who has ever spent any time on the tube during rush hour, it is clear that the suits of London are a sea of black, grey and navy. The city can always do with a bit of a brightening, perhaps especially now. Forgotten Peacock is an invitation for all men to free themselves from boring suits and uninspired outfits and allow themselves and their clothes to perform. Presented as an interactive and theatrical fashion show, designer 'takis' showcases his collection of suits on the bodies of 9 non-professional models before handing the second collection over to the men in the audience to try and on and display. An experiment in the democratisation of the catwalk, and a personal passion of the designer to bring back the flamboyant and the fabulous to London's male population.

It was a surprise that while inviting men to step out of the constraints of  mainstream style, that the first collection clothed the men in suits that were all very similar. The suits were white, signalling the promised break from the somber end of the spectrum and were differentiated by details of shape and cut out sections. Yet when seen together presented an impression of a homogeneous group. The material was possibly the main contributor to this effect as it was so strikingly white and the texture so distinctively shiny as to override the smaller details of the designs. The reason for this choice did become very clear during a section when the models used their wall of bodies to act as a screen over which the projections of Mesmer (Dick Straker) could play. The men's suits became a shifting canvas for a wave of patterns and images, transforming them into something more flamboyant and unusual. The projections hinted at historical references to bygone eras when men's fashion was perhaps more peacock-like, or to future uses of technologies that have allowed L.E.D. screens to flash images and messages across t-shirts. It reminded me of a Victor and Rolf collection in which each of the designs featured areas of Klein blue material. On either side of the stage, the models were projected with their blue sections acting as a TV or film blue-screen upon which birds or clouds could roam. A smart way of presenting a plethora of ideas without a few miles of material and hundreds of costume changes. But again, as the men stood together as a wall, they remained homogeneous. In fact even more so as much of the projection spilt onto their face, hiding their features. Perhaps the projection could be more worked into the models individual turns around the catwalk? That way each man could wear his own distinctive range of patterns and colours over his full 3-dimensional body. It felt like it could have been really interesting to see the men move through this wall of images, instead of the other way around, playing with the environment the light could create for them, suggesting at suits that could be made and could be worn, peacock-like in the dull grey of commuter-land.

The second collection was definitely more playful. Takis spoke of his being inspired by contexts when men were encouraged to be more extravagant in their appearance, and it was in this half that you could spot the references in the Papal/Roman/ Sci-fi sleeves and the long pleated tails.

But the show was more about the men themselves than the clothes that they wore. Gareth Fry's sound score gave little snippets of the performers voices, opening windows on these men in their everyday lives. At one point the men cross through the space accompanied by the sound of their own voices revealing the secrets of their beauty routines. It felt a bit like the fascination of looking in someone else's bathroom cabinet. Something all the more intimate for its mundanity.

It was also impressive to see that the men who volunteered from the audience also seemed to take dressing up and parading through a room filled with mirrors surprisingly calmly. One was even boyishly happy to be wearing a suit that allowed him to fulfil his long-held dream to walk through a room imitating the moment in Joseph and the Technicolour Dream Coat when Joseph unveils his colours. Head tilted upward, the tails of his jacket held wide, he stalked across the room displaying the wide arc of his colourful lining. Truly his suit did allow him to be transformed, and so in that takis achievedhis wish.

Forgotten Peacock was an interesting piece with it's own contradictions. In a way it felt more like the offer of an experience for the men who took part as models, the chance to feel what it is to treat clothing as a performance. For me at least, the suits didn't hit any personal fashion buttons, and so the interest lay in being able to witness the models deal with their new found spotlight, and to feel a little bit close to these strangers as they walked around in front of me.


Box Office: 08715 943123 or offwestendtheatres.co.uk

Information: www.forgottenpeacock.com

Tickets: £12.50 (£9 concessions)

Performances: 7pm until October 26th

7pm and 9pm October 27th - November 29th

No performances Sundays.

The Brunswick, Gallery, Unit 39
The Brunswick,
London WC1N 1BS





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