Oscar Wilde famously said that ‘Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.’ Well, Thomas Tait’s fashion is far from ugly and neither does it really need changing every six months, but that’s the name of the game. Twice a year designers showcase a new set of clothes that are somehow seasonal. As if summer always requires shorts and t-shirts and not parka coats. And for some odd reason summer colours are bright and loud whereas the winter season should, according to the laws of fashion, have a sombre colour palette. Anyway, the point here is that - as Thomas Tait made obvious at his Pitti Immagine exhibition yesterday - sometimes we need to take the time to slow down, look back and try and better ourselves.
As the latest designer to collaborate with the Florentine trade show on a creative project (as opposed to a brand just showing its next collection), Tait took the opportunity to really dissect and analyse his own past. Looking back, he identified various pieces that he would have loved to manufacture in a different, presumably better, way. ‘There were some garments that I was in tears about before the shows and that I didn’t want to show that way - this was my ‘re-do’ opportunity,’ he said at the presentation. It wasn’t a retrospective per se, more a ‘Best Of, Done Better’ as Tait - with the help of Pitti - was allowed to use expert Italian factories to re-produce various bits and pieces from his career. ‘It’s a massive luxury to be able to ‘re-do’, it’s an opportunity that’s disappearing in fashion,’ Tait explained. ‘Because of the speed we can’t afford to re-visit things and seasonal fashion is built on the idea of something being shown and then sold and then it’s gone forever.’
The exhibition, aside from seven Thomas Tait pieces, also included a taped conversation between the designer and Cathy Horyn, stylist Beth Fenton and architect Mehrnoosh Khadvi. The speed of fashion, and the pros and cons of the ever-increasing demands to design, produce and deliver was discussed. Tait was very much a curator here, more than an actual designer. He’d picked the pieces - everything from coats and knit jumpers to handbags and earrings - in order to simulate creative conversation: ‘I wanted to create an environment where I encouraged people to go to see the products up close and touch them.’ After the show, Tait spoke about wanting ‘to push his natural curiosity with these pockets of ideas.’ Except for a pair of quite elaborate animal print boots, most pieces were fairly simple, allowing Tait to really utilise Italy’s supreme manufacturing process. This made for a welcome breather, for both the audience and Tait, a chance to reflect on the past while gathering energy for the future.