[London] Carlotta Actis Barone AW 2012

Carlotta Actis Barone showed on Saturday night at the Vauxhall Fashion Scout, and we sat front row. By far the most dramatic of the shows, the set was filled with smoke from the models’ entrance to the runway before the first look came out. Known for choosing inspiration for social issues, Barone this season looked to the Holocaust, it was perhaps a difficult subject for less skilled designers to handle well. The notion of “Work Liberates”, as in the ironwork motto above the gates to Auschwitz, was a key motif; models wore wellington boots, a symbol, in this case, of drudgery and discomfort; the words were also worked onto nude tights material onto bodysuits, dresses and leggings, in shapes reminiscent of the death camp gates themselves. Models had back-combed birds nest hairstyles and smoky eye makeup extended onto the nose to with skull like eeriness. Capes also featured, as symbols of religion repressed, and the colour palette kept to a strict and sombre purple, blue and black, referring perhaps also to the colours of bruised and abused human skin. The dramatic layered gowns in rich tones worn with boots captured the fragility of the human spirit and completed the drama and poise of the collection.

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