Months after teasing the return of his legendary menswear collection, Aitor Throup revived his experimental fashion line "New Object Research" during a show for the ages at this year's London Collections: Men.

Held in a deconsecrated church, Throup's show took the form of a macabre puppet show. Outfits weren't modeled on humans - they were put onto life-size marionettes modeled after Throup himself, and walked (lurched) down the runway by white-clad manipulators. The effect was discomforting, unexpected, and delightfully original. 

Six outfits were presented in total, made primarily of monochromatic sportswear that leaned towards both techwear and street goth. The highlights of the collection included a dip-dyed hoodie, a metallic nylon parka, and a pullover with exaggerated chest pocket that was presented in darkness on a hollowed-out (and backlit) dummy.

While the original collection skewed towards the "fashion as art" side of the avant garde equation, this latest effort appears to be much more versatile. Perhaps it's a result of a general shift in tastes that Throup himself helped precipitate: as a reminder, men's fashion was primarily menswear-driven when the original N.O.R. debuted in 2013. Much has changed, yet Throup's design vision has remained relatively consistent. The pullover, for example, reminds me of Cav Empt's famous Light Fleece Pullover design, but designed to drape rather than insulate. 

Given the presentation's focus on theatrics rather than pure sartoria, it's difficult to get a real sense of the clothing outside of the mood created by Throup to display it. But if the atmosphere created on stage is any indication, the clothing will be equal parts artifact and talisman. The collection's name says it all: it's not "fashion", it's "New Object Research." There's a sense that what you're seeing is on a different plane of being from the fashion week taking place right outside - you just can't put your finger on why. It's the same creeping, nostalgia-drenched futurism that made Throup's DEATH OF MONGOLIA video unveil so morbidly fascinating: you're as interested as you are utterly mystified. All in all, a mesmerizing collection - and a strong return from one of the industry's most provocative designers. 

The collection will hit select stores worldwide in January 2017, but is available for limited pre-purchase now at DOVER STREET MARKET London.   

 

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