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FOR MARCO Capaldo‘s autumn-winter 2024 collection for 16Arlington, the designer stepped over to the dark side.

Inspired by Charlie Fox’s 2019 exhibition titled My Head is a Haunted House, presented at Sadie Coles HQ, questions were posed for about what it means to be a monster. Are they born, or created? Do we find scapegoats when made to feel uncomfortable about something? You get the gist. But, the last question asked was: ‘What if the real monsters lie within ourselves?’.

“I fell in love with the beauty of the monstrous,” states Capaldo. “Sometimes darkness has more depth than light”.

Inviting guests to the Barbican, the runway reflected the institution’s curve architecture and hid all light from the show space apart from a single beam of light that followed the models as they unveiled the collection titled I’m Not Sorry, It’s Human Nature.

Appearing out of the darkness, the looks unfolded exposing a decadent array of gothic allure with black gowns, optical illusion organza and oodles of ostrich feathers. Pushing and pulling with the contrast between tamed and untamed, elegant tailoring and body hugging silhouettes walked alongside bare chests, unruly silver fringing and out-of-place tops tied to necks.

But as the show notes read, Capaldo wants to ensure you that this isn’t about costumes or a collection made to hide who you are. “It’s not about Halloween – it’s about human nature. Hence the title of the show, borrowed, of course, from Madonna. Those who go against conventions are often ostracised, but there’s so much strength and power and beauty in rejecting norms. These are the people I design for”.

It’s always been about injecting hedonism into womenswear. Adding that rebellious touch to femininity. After the final procession of silver shimmery looks to close the show, it’s clear that Capaldo’s vision is sensual, provocative and nothing for those who don’t like a bit of glamour.

And whilst there might not have been anything too terrifying walking down the runway, it’s how these clothes will be translated into real life that might be the cause of some mayhem.

by Imogen Clark

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