During London Fashion Week in September 2009, A Child of the Jago stepped out of the alley for the first time and stomped up onto the boards of Wilton’s Music Hall. That truculent inauguration marked the first moment the fashion industry would be subjected to Jago’s rebel yell. As jarring as high decibel guitar distortion, destined to hang in the air thicker and longer than London’s Great Stink of 1858.
Breaking and Entering Among Blake’s Dark Satanic Mills
Jago’s sophmore effort sees Corre and Armitage’s wayward progeny picking the locks on the rusted-shut gates of Wiliam Blake’s Dark Satanic Mills. Once open Jago’s child leads its gang of eager monkeys scampering behind it like mesmerised rats following the piper. But make no mistake, modern fashion malaise may have created these monkeys but they’re taken just about all they’re going to take and they’re ready to reclaim their due – what comes next is what always comes next when inmates take over an asylum. The finely orchestrated mania of mischievous monkeys cranking up long dormant machines in haunted work-stations lining long abandoned factory floors. Station by station the transformers spit, burp and sputter to a hum, the work lights flicker and crackle to a lurid glow, flywheels creak their way out of paralysis, thread spools shiver as their yarn is finally wrenched away again to the spastic anti-rhythm of rusty needles stabbing back into rich cloth ending decades of mechanical emasculation.
It’s a damn good thing Jago and the monkeys found shelter in those satanic mills because it could easily be another steely cold winter under England’s concrete skies. When we witness their emergence from the squat of those damp and drafty quarters it is clear they have been frantically preparing for the worst by manifesting the very best. Enough new gear has been carefully cut and crafted to drape every splinter faction of every gang to ever illuminate the pages of Newgate’s best prison fiction.
An Unholy Trinity: Lashing Out in Three Directions
Lashing out at the impenetrable grey of those low-hanging winter skies requires a certain optical luster and visual dazzle. What light there is shimmers suggestively off the silk velvet nap of Jago’s new boiler suits. Rich luxury yarns drag unexpected color through the weaves of thick bouclés and fine Linton tweeds. Dazzle camouflage literally dazzles as allover prints rendered in nearly dangerous proportions.
Facing off in a street fight against the chill requires an armory of rich, thick and warm fabrications all woven in England. Heavy woolen tweeds, chunky Fair Isle knits and Melton, all trade turns knocking the season’s chill on its icy glass jaw.
For Corre and Armitage the most important lashes of all are the ones snapped with the force and precision of a bullwhip in the face of manufacturing mediocrity and the attrition of craftsmanship since Britain’s bygone days as an industrial power. The slow and relentless corrosion of artisan production made even more lamentable by the death of its apprenticeships and the terminal withering of its domestic know-how brought about by cynical and sinister modern marketing machinations. Cheap tricks of the new profiteer; “built-in-obsolescence”, “value-engineering”, “rapid promotional rotation” and “celebrity product-seeding” all conspire in an attempt to make monkeys out of us.
For Fall 2010, A Child of the Jago shows us what can happen when the monkey’s realise who has the real control. They are turning the lights back on in small local factories and independent ateliers, forming backroom alliances with East London’s best tailoring shops and the Kingdom’s best fabric suppliers, and injecting the whole process with a deliciously poisonous (and equally British) dose of punk attitude and deadly dandy swagger. Our reaction should be a mix of Ebenezer Scrooge’s deep relief; “-you mean its not too late?”, the anxious anticipation of an outnumbered chaperone; “oh fuck, this liberation-shit is gonna be impossible to control”, and the heart-pumping optimism of a well turned-out bachelor’s most promising night on the town; “whatever the hell happens next, it feels cocky and confident, it looks the nails and it cuts through the crap as quick as the blade of a Wilkinson’s tailor shear”.
Anything can happen because anything can.
Words by Liam Maher