Louise Goldin is a British designer who has been receiving growing attention for her collections that combine seemingly disparate elements: highly sculptural form that veers from an almost poppish sci-fi silhouette to body armour made up of the kinds of natural forms that one might encounter under a microscope; odd touches of a vintage or retro sensibility to the overall silhouette; perhaps even a camp sense of the theatrical that has oft been a feature of British designers after Alexander McQueen. Yet it’s seldom achieved so consummately.
After completing her studies at London’s prestigious Central Saint Martin’s, Louise spent two years working as head designer for the Tereza Santos, the international cult Brazilian brand, before showing her own collections since 2008. It proved a valuable development opportunity, providing Louise with hands-on experience and space for experimentation with production techniques. Perhaps it even affected how she approached producing her own collections in which experimental approaches to bespoke fabrics she produces herself may form part of the intricate garments. For example, knitwear, particularly knitwear that deploys unusual combinations of natural fabrics such as wool and metallic, futuristic synthetics has often been a feature of her work. This same hybrid approach in her current AW10 collection is most notably elaborated in the stunning bomber jacket that combines Saga fox fur and wool, the latter stitched into an elaborate pattern that simultaneously evokes anatomical musculature and armour.
Unlike many other designers, Louis seems to be rather hesitant about elaborating the inspiration or concept behind her collections, though she has, on occasion, admitted to a geeky fascination with science and chemistry and a love of a broad range of musty museum collections. Perhaps some of it has rubbed off in her work: there are definitely geometric shapes reminiscent of organic chemistry diagrams going on here and there. But, it’s also refreshing to see a designer whose work evokes many different ideas without necessarily illustrating any single idea too literally. For example, beyond the visual forms that we find in many a chemistry diagram seeming to find its way into her work – perhaps rather unusually more as form rather than surface textile print- there are a lot of other ideas going on too.
Highly sculptural detailing shapes garments into something resembling insect exoskeletons merged with Elizabethan armour. The flashes of bright metallics beneath the skirts or on the form of leggings both underscore the idea of armour, very much resembling the classic male Tudor silhouette. They also, combined with other elements, have a strong sci-fi feeling about them, at times almost reminiscent of Sean Young’s retro-futurist looks created for ‘Bladerunner’.
Without a doubt, Louise Goldin’s designs create a powerful looking femininity; short skirts and all the classic allure of the cocktail dress. But, these little black dresses function equally as armour, suggesting a woman who is prepared for battle on all occasions.