Ben Cottrell and Matthew Dainty led us through the back channels of the Natural History Museum on Saturday evening in what was their grandest show yet. Over the years, the duo developed a handwriting synonymous with Dalston club culture, grafting season after season on what it means to dress for the so-called "underground scene" of East London. Against the landscape of extra-terrestrial artifacts, this season Cottweiler ventured into otherworldly terrains, perhaps in search of new material.
Cottweiler FW18 menswear show in London. Picture by Guillaume Roujas.
As the Earth Hall descended into pitch black, reptilian textures, hand-painted bags, harnesses, and carabinas ebbed and flowed under the dimly-lit runway. Archetypal white-on-white dressing made way for a more sinister palette. Cottweiler’s half-man-half-beast conjured nostalgic visions of K. A. Applegate’s “Animorphs” series. Models drenched in goo seemed like they had just been belched by an ancient cave. The press release claims they might have emerged from the subterranean lakes of Krizna Jama in Slovenia although their demeanour spoke to something more alien.
In an exercise to expand Cottweiler’s repertoire, Ben and Matthew have kept to the defining themes of the brand that lent it crystal clarify from day one. Tensions between natural and synthetic remained central to the show’s concept. The idea of the harness being the new belt is an enduring one that could well influence how we dress next season. If there were any qualms, one wishes there were more looks to see. As Cottweiler verges on a new chapter in its evolution, we'll probably see its vocabulary sampled on other designers' runways even more so.
See Cottweiler's full Fall/Winter 2018 men's collection here.