Gareth Pugh is one of the most innovative and imaginative designers of the 21st century. Born in Sunderland, England, he worked as a costume designer for the English National Youth Theatre when he was just 14 years old. A trained dancer and sculptor, he decided to focus mainly on fashion design and began his education at City of Sunderland College. He later enrolled at Central Saint Martins in their famed design program and graduated with his degree in 2003. His final collection used balloons to create unique shapes and volume and accentuate the human form. This technique, which would later become one his trademarks, caught the attention of the senior fashion editor of Dazed & Confused magazine. Shortly after graduating, one of his designs was on the cover of the magazine.
Pugh gained the attention of Fashion East, a collective of sorts for cutting-edge London talent, and was invited to participate in their Autumn 2005 group show. With only 4 weeks, and without a studio, assistants, or any money really, Pugh was able to create a small collection. Despite many obstacles, his collection had the support of critics and attracted much attention to his unique designs.
During a work placement assisting designer Rick Owens, Pugh was introduced to his wife, Michelle Lamy. Lamy, a Parisian fashion consultant, decided to become Pugh's official backer. Despite three successful London Fashion Weeks runway shows, and considerable press attention, Pugh made it known that he had yet to earn a "penny for any stitch". Lamy wanted to take the designs in a more wearable direction and convinced Pugh to trade in some of his trademark PVC and incorporate leather, cashmere, and fur.
Pugh's first collection in Paris was for Spring '09. His designs became stocked in boutiques in Japan, New York, and London, although his admirers seemed strictly Hollywood. The world's biggest pop stars were wearing his creations on and off the stage. The list of famous fans includes Beyonce, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue and even Marilyn Manson.
In August 2010, his first (and to the date only) stand alone store opened in Hong Kong. Following it's opening Pugh said "I would never in a million years think that I had been to Hong Kong last summer to open my shop. It was all very odd. It's small and perfectly formed, slap-bang between Comme Des Garcons and Gucci". Rumours have rampantly followed the designer since he began showing in Paris. His name was circulated with who would take over for both Alexander McQueen and Thierry Mugler. Another one saying he was taking over at Dior Homme. Pugh says he has never been formally approached by another fashion house and offered a job. Collaborations are the next step for Pugh who recently announced he will release a full make up line with MAC cosmetics in November '11.