Third Floor Issue 5
Conceptual artist Pandemonia has sparked debate at fashion events and catwalks across the country, causing us to question who really deserves to be in the front-row at a fashion show?
For designers, distributing front-row seats for their catwalk shows has always been a crucial point of consideration and plays a hugely important role in getting media coverage of their brand and collections. Each year at fashion weeks across the globe front-row invitations are delivered to the biggest and most influential names in the fashion industry and to some of the worlds most photographed celebrities. Recently, Nicole Farhi sparked debate when she slated that celebrities are often spotted at fashion shows because they have been paid to attend and not purely for their love of fashion and next seasons trends.
The media are always quick to mention who attended which fashion shows, and this can often receive more press attention than the actual clothes themselves. However, not all designers agree with the celebrity culture surrounding the catwalk: in 1999 Alexander McQueen famously refused to let Victoria Beckham attend his show because he believed it would prove an unwelcome distraction from the clothes. Designer Marc Jacobs also denounces the celebrity culture surrounding fashion shows and has banned starts from attending his catwalks. Whether celebrities receive money incentive to attend the shows or not, there is certainly no denying that front-row seats are the most sought after at a catwalk show, which leads us to question who is entitled to be there and who isn’t?
Self-styled and seven feet tall, conceptual artist and personality Pandemonia is certainly making a stir in the fashion industry. Once a gate-crasher of fashion week parties and exhibitions, Pandemonia is now very much an established front-row figure and is frequently snapped with other front-row icons such as Hilary Alexander, Jameela Jamil, Pam Hogg and Zoe Griffin. When asked why she secures so many front-row seats, Pandemonia answers: “ U get offered front-row tickets because people are intrigued by my work and it attracts media attention; it creates those extra column inches.” Despite Pandemonia becoming a well-known fashion Personality through the amount of fashion events she attends, there still seems to be a feeling of mystery surrounding her and what she represents. When asked what she is ultimately trying to achieve through the way she dresses and portrays herself, she states; “ I am a visual artist exploring ideas and observations of daily life”
Pandemonia Panacea isn’t the first conceptual artist to dress in such a manner and in some ways she can be related to the exhibitionism through appearance and clothing in the work of the late Leigh Bowery. He was a conceptual performance artiest, clothing designer and club creature in London in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and if you compare the two it is possible to draw distinct similarities in some of their full length latex outfits. Pandemonia is the creation of an anonymous art graduate who was born in 2008, after graduating from an MA Fine Art cour5se at Chelsea College of Art. In the four years since then, not only has Pandemonia made herself known as an established fine artist, but has also created a lifestyle which she lives daily through her art and image as Pandemonia Panacea. Dressed head-to-toe in latex, the cartoon-style conceptual figure aims to challenge the perception of the ideal woman in the twenty-first century. Each creation and art piece takes months to create, but the impact and reaction which each outfit attracts is phenomenal. The self-made PR machine first became noticed by the fashion industry when she featured in an interview in the Flesh and Blood issue of i-D magazine with Holly Shackleton, and since then , Pandemonia’s image has grown from strength to strength; with over 4,000 followers in Twitter, frequent mentions on blogs and features in magazines such as Vogue and The independent, it seems Pandemonia’s message is being heard loud ans clear.
The unconventional and impractical way that Pandemonia chooses to dress makes you question why she has chosen to live this way. When asked if she dresses as Pandemonia each time she leaves the house , she answers; “ Of course, its a full time hob!” Pandemonia takes inspiration from the superficial world of fame and the celebrity culture that fills our magazines, and when asked what else inspires her style of dress, Pandemonia states; “ For me it’s about exclusivity. It’s about expressing your self. What you wear is what you are and what you buy into. I’m buying into the modern dream, into fashion and the idea of beauty. I get my ideas from people I see, adverts and things I like in magazines.” It is evident that Pandemonia remains a larger-than life unique portrayal of beauty, and will continue to cause mayhem at fashion events and grace front rows alongside fashion insiders at many catwalks in the future.
Words by Katie Handy-Beith