During the last two decades of the 20th century, the work of a group of designers continued a current usually known as Anti-fashion.
When summarizing the 80s and 90s, we can generally say they were defined by names associated with a markedly sexualized aesthetic, like Versace, Tom Ford at Dior or Azzedine Alaia. Their creations transmitted a world of opulence, though not empty of a playful and carefree tone.
This period of time also skyrocketed other fashion designers who adhered to an iconoclastic and supposedly anti-systemic trend. A trend that was contrary to aesthetic ideals of the Mainstream.
The treatment of the human silhouette, a new vision of the chic - or the total ignorance of it - and a new strategy in the positioning of brands were some of their essential principles. Within this trend are prominent Asian designers such as Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto and members of the Antwerpen School such as Ann Demeulemeester and Dies van Noten.
Martin Margiela was the most important figure at the forefront of this movement.
The young designer Samuel Ross, at 27 years old, seems to be adding to this tradition. The man behind the brand A Cold Wall * has been the focus of attention at the London Fashion Week for two years.
A Brixton native, he studied Graphic Design & Illustration at De Montford University.
The fashion press and some rumors that always circulate within the industry and its inapprehensive marketing strategies point to A Cold Wall* as the new Off-White. This comparison makes sense up to a certain point.
For those who have been aware of the latest changes in the men's fashion sector, it is clear that the miraculous success of Off White is supported by a notion of fashion that can not only be appreciated, but conceptualized.
The designers behind this Anti-fashion generation, a brand founded by Virgilh Abloh (recent creative director of Louis Vuitton), represent a fashion meant not only to be worn due to its aesthetic qualities, but to be understood. It is clear that these premises are part of a clever brand-positioning campaign that constantly appeals to the connection with young consumers or Millennials.
Unlike Off-White, where many of the pieces start from basic street-wear and sport-wear, A Cold Wall * deconstructs the typical sportswear, betting on a game with the silhouettes that reminds us of the best Margiela. The items with which the brand has become famous are its vests (integrated within several layers of PVC), its asymmetric jackets and tight hoods and its bags, among which is the already renowned utility bag.
In the "Spring/Summer 2019" collection, Samuel Ross has moved a bit from his neutral color palette, betting on red in certain pieces. This created a contrast with the prevailing atmosphere throughout a show populated with hooded figures covered in ash, while a distorted sound was played in the background.
These elements created the illusion of a hostile world, one of resistance; as if it were a post-catastrophe, or a dystopian reality. The fact is that each show conceptualized by Ross can reach the category of "Artistic Action”: where the combination between performance, happenings and installation creates a polyphony of sensations and states.
Since he was twenty-four, Samuel Ross has worked on projects for several companies, among them those founded by Kanye West and Virgil Abloh. After these periods of learning, driven by a more artistic vision, he created his own brand in 2015.
Ross has confessed that in his creative process he draws on dissimilar aesthetic currents, from the Bauhaus and the last Avant-Gardes of the 20th century, to literary movements such as the Black Art Movement. His proposal is also linked to demands of a political and social nature, with messages about racial issues and the sense of existence of the young generations.
Throughout this process of creative synergy and artistic cross-linking, it seems that a product of difficult digestion for the market has emerged. However, almost after his second collection, he has managed to have a place in Barneys and SSense - brands that market independent designers- and their accessories sell out before the sales period.
Like Off-White, A Cold Wall * communicates to a Millennial consumer sector. A generation that has found new ways of consuming luxury products, strongly influenced by Street-Wear, the culture of Streetstyle and Fashion-Blogs. For them, it is not only expensive products with a high price tag, but products linked to stories and life experiences. A Cold Wall* offers us the construction of a culture and sensitivity associated with its brand.