If Antony Gormley's Angel of the North had an office job, he'd probably wear something like Habitat, the coppery, oxidised and distressed number that the Turner Prize-winning sculptor has created with Graeme Fidler, of the British brand Aquascutum, for Esquire's Singular Suit exhibition. Opening today at London Fashion Week's new home, Somerset House, and featuring in the all-important September issue (out on Thursday) of the magazine, the project features collaborations between 18 designers and artists, including John Galliano, Bruno Pieters and Jeremy Deller, who are pushing the boundaries of modern menswear with their idiosyncratic and startling takes on the humble blue-collar uniform.
"Clothing is the intimate form of architecture," says Gormley of the electro-plated suit, and it's a message echoed, if antithesised, in Giorgio Armani's mossy green velvet offering, made with the theatre director Robert Wilson, featuring hundreds of bronzed leather leaves stitched together to create the sleeves. The exhibition explores how clothing works as a form of shelter, whether from the elements or from others. Richard James and the installation artist Spencer Tunick (known for gathering crowds of naked people in one place) came up with the Naked Suit, a gauzy, transparent piece that is nevertheless rigidly tailored, while Donatella Versace's suit – with the help of James Clar – is defensively adorned with flashing light sabres.
Similarly, the architect Ron Arad worked with Dolce & Gabbana to create a suit that protects its wearer's personal space: "It's studded with sensors that alert you if someone is standing too near, and it can be reversed – the alarm can go off when no one is standing near enough. There is definite potential for a real product here."
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