Raquel Fernández Sobrín
Of all the anecdotes available to explain the influence of Molly Goddard (London, 1988) in the fashion industry, I will start with the most representative, although it is not the most popular: when Rei Kawakubo, creator of Comme des Garçons , was getting dressed for the 2018 Met Gala, her husband and partner at the time of founding Dover Street Market, Adrian Joffe, asked her to change her dress. It didn't seem like a good idea for her to choose the Goddard label for the opening of the exhibition Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between. Since they were doing him the honours, it seemed more appropriate to wear his own creation. Another of Goddard's dresses, named Daria and made up of 90 meters of tulle, has also contributed to the success of this year's exhibition: Camp: Notes on Fashion. One more, in bubblegum pink, helped build the character of Villanelle, the bad guy from the Killing Eve series, which in the first 36 hours of its premiere was devoured by 2.6 million viewers. Another one must be added to the list: the one that became extremely sexy when it became Rihanna's look (I warned at the beginning that I wasn't going to start with the most popular piece of information). It's no exaggeration to say that Molly Goddard influences those who influence.
Before all this, even creating her own firm, the British company worked under John Galliano and Meadham Kirchoff. Even before she graduated from Central Saint Martins (she studied under the famous Louise Wilson) and if we go back a little further, to her childhood, she already dreamed of being a designer. Her vocation was not a distant passion: she grew up watching her mother make clothes at home and soon put her own skills to use. That past tense is key in his work. “I treasure clothes I wore as a child and the memories associated with them, but I don't know if it's nostalgia or just another point of inspiration. Sometimes remembering a terrible outfit that I wore at 15 in a bad nightclub motivates me and inspires a collection as much as a Victorian nightgown can," she says from her studio in London's West End. Molly Goddard's approach to her creations has something childlike in another sense, a certain plastic, manual and artistic character that makes them emotional. "Texture and fabrics is what really stimulates me, exploring new ways of manipulating material is what we like the most in the studio and many of our methods are based on traditional techniques."
As a child, the first impulse when you stand in front of his clothes is to reach out and touch, squeeze the tulle, which is not the only fabric that gives material to his collections but the that identifies them. “I start with a lot of sketches, then I describe one of the drawings to Becky, my pattern maker, who makes the pattern on paper. One or two toiles are prepared with it. We test it and make changes, sometimes we only need one test, sometimes we need 20! We send some pieces to the factory and others we like to finish in the studio to make it faster”. This is a dress of considerable dimensions in colors as striking as coral pink, turquoise blue or tangerine orange.
When do you lose the cheesy, empty halo of overly feminine clothes? It may be the feeling that they are not finished until they join the body, the idea that they have taken shape almost by chance or that they have lived as many lifetimes as there are layers of tissue. Or maybe it's the modern version of what already happened with British punk in the seventies, that the prom dress has once again become an exercise in rebellion. Definitely, it has a lot to do with the fact that you have to have a high dose of personality to defend them (it's not the type of clothing you can hide behind). Be that as it may, finding the key was as complicated as formulating a master recipe that is somehow linked to improvisation and chance. Hers has achieved something even more difficult in these times: a brand identity that is as feminine as it is feminist. We must not forget that behind the beautiful part – that of making dreams come true – creating a firm implies establishing a company. “At first the hardest thing was finding the right team to work with and understanding what papers are needed, when they are needed and at what level. Starting alone and growing, building a team, is a challenge because you automatically become a manager”. He had the help of the Newgen program of the British Fashion Council, which, beyond an economic boost (he won the prize consisting of 200,000 pounds in 2018) is a guide on the confusing path of creating a brand. “When we started making sales in Paris, they gave us legal support and it was very helpful to get started.”
At the time he presented his first collection in 2015, few firms took the risk with the idea of volume. After all, we were living through the boom of street fashion and normcore. Four years later, a considerable number of designers proposed dresses of almost impossible volumes (it is well known that there is nothing like setting out to overcome a challenge) armed with crinolines and crinolines. Goddard, on the other hand, continues to shape his from the construction, from the superimposition of layers, without surprise elements or hidden components. “Volume isn't the most practical thing, of course, but it's what I love. I like to create the right balance in a collection, dresses where you can't sit next to others to slump on a sofa.” Apart from his characteristic style, he has found an identity when it comes to putting his collections on stage. His models paint, dance, cook... they smoke quietly. Letting them be and do has only added character to her garments. With his latest show, he took things a little further: “I wanted it to be claustrophobic, for speed and colors to sweep past guests as it brushed past them. Even if they couldn't see the whole look, the intention was for them to feel the spirit of the garments. I liked the idea that it was impossible to get a decent photo and that they felt forced to look and feel.” This time, moreover, he dispensed with narrative and proposed a timeless wardrobe in the Goddard code: "My main goal is to make clothes that people keep and treasure forever, until they end up passing them on to others who also enjoy them." Not bad for a designer who is at that critical moment in which she must grow her brand without betraying her identity.
Suddenly, the future of fashion seems to lie at two opposite ends: technology that makes the manufacturing process efficient and sustainable, and craftsmanship that involves hitting the brakes to slow down . And enjoy the views, of course. If you think about it, slower is usually synonymous with happier, and when you smile with joy the vision of the world is blurred. I am not referring to the curtain in which the tears become from laughing out loud, but to that moment when things become cloudy because the grimace of the smile does not allow you to open your eyes completely. This is Goddard's tulle dresses. Beautiful blurred views.
Photos: Jason Lloyd-Evans, Dougal Macarthur, Sarah Edwards, courtesy of Molly Goddard.
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