Matthew Miller’s view of life is anything but rose-tinted. Decay and destruction are his default positions. “I can’t help it, it’s in my nature,” he acknowledged cheerfully today. His new collection was labeled Resistant, according to the hang-tags that dangled from many of the garments. Maybe that meant contrariness, which would certainly fit with Miller’s state of mind, but it also referred to the flame-retardant quality of the upholstery fabrics he used for the clothes. He’s been collaborating with Kvadrat, one of Europe’s top textile companies, for a few seasons now, so the quality of the cloth was plain to see, but Miller ravaged it, ripping, tearing, shredding, then stitching it all back together and slapping patches of a deconstructed MA1 jacket on top. He thought of those patches as bits of armor. It’s a hard world, after all.
Miller’s a conceptual designer. The expensive furniture that his fabrics would normally be covering were, to him, symbols of a long-gone lifestyle—”everything we will never be.” That might suggest a certain amount of resentment was being released in the way he abused said cloth, except for the fact that the result was actually quite pleasing. It was artisanal, gentle, even pretty, with all the collaged fabrics and fringing that softened the hems of tunic tops and rimmed the exaggerated tongues on the shoes. Same thing with coats subtly patterned as though they were vaguely infected with something. Again, surprisingly attractive (with covered buttons signposting the care that had been lavished on them). “It’s the texture of life,” said Miller. “When you rub or scar it, it becomes something beautiful.” And that will always be the silver lining in his cloud.