Where others see dystopia and despair, Jens Laugesen has chosen hope. "It is time to find humanity in even the darkest hours," he emphasises, "and I do feel art is an important part of this." His A/W 22 collection, launching on the final day of Paris Fashion Week, reflects this. Titled INRECON 01 / SOLARIS, it will be the first part of the IN RECONSTRUCTION trilogy rolled out over several seasons.
Speaking to Laugesen about the collection, it is difficult not to get swept away by the magnitude of the concepts behind the collection; he cites filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, the early 20th century Futurism movement, and metamodernism among his influences. These aren't hashtags or throwaway references however, but essential entry points to understanding Laugesen's designs and the nostalgic futuristic time lapse film done in collaboration with photographer Jean-Francois Carly and film editor Maxim Young.
Conceived during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, when Laugesen was living beside the mid-century brutalist Metropolitan University building now being reconstructed as The Rowe, a new high rise build in London's Aldgate East, the collection is a intellectual take on the liminal space between the past and present.
Textual wool fishermen's sweaters from heritage maker S.N.S. Herning are spliced and sat next to reconfigured tailored trench coats, while ministerial collarless shirts sit underneath strong-shouldered cropped tuxedo jackets. A collection in shades of black, white and beige, it gestures towards a severe dystopian future and then is softened through the appropriation of materials with lineage and character. The result is a genderless and somehow ageless assemblage of pieces that could as easily be worn by a future-perfect version of humanity, as it will be by those of us stuck in 2022.
And the present is very much a consideration to Laugesen, acutely aware that he is creating fashion in an age beset by disease, increasing poverty, and war. Having shot the INRECON/SOLARIS film in the same Metropolitan University he spent staring at during those bleakest months of the pandemic, he sees it as a sign that renewal and possibility can be born out of despair.
He encourages his audience to engage with the power of the fashion to assist in the ways it can, including using art as resistance and rallying community support. He cites the open letter by platform 1granary as a means of uniting the soft power of the creative industry to enact change, and notes "I feel uncomfortable presenting a new fashion film project in the middle of the current aggression by Russia in Ukraine, as it is an assault against humanity and the world peace that we all stand for. But at the same time, I hope the INRECON/SOLARIS film can convey an optimistic view on a dystopian future as I feel without hope, we are nothing."