The body as distinct from the soul, mind or psyche.
Soma is a capsule collection of menswear essentials presented through the choreography of Wayne McGregor. Each piece is timeless, designed with longevity in mind. Craftsmanship and modernity have been combined to produce understated garments that can be relied upon for years to come.
Everyday movements formed the starting point for Soma. Gestures that we are unaware of making – unconscious, unintentional. To create a seasonless selection of styles that can be worn day-to-day, we focused on these routine movements: the very act of dressing.
The roll of a sleeve. The way a collar catches at the neck. Fabric brushing against skin. Fingers tugging at a cuff absentmindedly. These small movements matter. We are constantly reaching, bending, stretching, twisting – altering how clothes sit on the body.
To examine the organic connection between a garment and its wearer, we have highlighted these movements through the medium of dance. Function is brought to the forefront of both the choreography and the collection. Aspects of clothing have been subverted in small ways, to see the effect this has on how people move. These changes complement the body and interact with it subtly…
At the heart of Soma is an exploration of how a collection comes alive through the wearer. Styles change as soon as they come into contact with the body. When we think about design, one thing above all else is clear: a garment is nothing without someone to wear it.
A note from the choreographer
COS approached me to create an artistic conversation between the clothes and the body, to be free, to start exploring ‘everyday’ gesture and to see where that may lead – as well as to play with the fabrics, texture and cut of the collection.
By breaking down movement and clothing to their essential parts, we can explore the everyday gestures and movement that we take for granted, and see and experience them anew.
Soma is the Latin word for body, and more accurately, of the body as distinct from the soul and mind. The body dances every day as we dress and interact. Our bodies are so influenced by what we wear – the garment’s weight, flow, feel – they become an extension of us. I want to question what does the body know? What are our physical habits and how can we break them?
COS’ new collection subverts the wearer’s usual gestures, as they need to behave differently to wear and use the clothes. It snaps the wearer out of autopilot. Think about how many decisions you make during the day that are out of habit. By disrupting something with these small but significant details, we explore how this can have wider implications across the bigger decisions you make in your work, and your life. This is what I’m talking about with physical thinking, connecting with the body, and how we can evolve this kind of physical fluency.
For me, COS is all about simplicity, focus, rigor, invention and play. These are all qualities I try to incorporate in a dance-making process. COS operates without borders, in a permanent state of discovery and revision – this openness is essential to any creative act. I started my company 25 years ago this year, and I’ve been Resident Choreographer at The Royal Ballet sine 2006. Throughout my career I’ve always been interested in moving outside the dance bubble, finding unexpected ways to collaborate, and reach beyond the dimensions of dance. Collaboration is at the heart of my artistic practice. I never go into a collaboration knowing what it’s going to be. Rather I come with an invitation to explore, to say, “what can we do together?” And that’s the same way I approached this project with COS. It’s all about a transfer of energies and trust, to work towards achieving something – building something new together. That’s what I find exciting.
We wanted the performance to occur naturally, emerge out of an everyday situation where the public could come across the work as if by accident. No stage, no theatrical lighting – a flight of the imagination in real life. I’m very interested in architecture, how the space we’re in informs how we move and behave within it, so location is very important to me. Site-specific work always presents challenges, and performing outdoors adds a level of unpredictability; I find creative ways to respond to this with the dancers and collaborators.
I hope that after watching the performance people will first and foremost come away with joy, as well as a sense of the unexpected, having borne witness to bodies doing the familiar and unfamiliar. And a need to dance themselves!