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Why unisex is the new androgynous

“I never wanted my name up in lights,” says Paula Gerbase, the founder of 1205, explaining her deliberately anonymous brand. “As a label we focus on the clothes.”

Gerbase’s work is often described as androgynous. She certainly has the pedigree, having trained in the womenswear atelier of Hardy Amies before a five-year stint as a head designer for Savile Row tailor Kilgour. But while her silhouettes tend to be loose and her collections designed for both genders, Gerbase considers the term outdated. “People call a woman in trousers androgynous, but they’ve been wearing them for so long that for me it doesn’t really count.” A better term, she says, is unisex: “There is a focus on cut, detail, precision and severity that can be perceived as masculine. Feminine, to me, relates to anything tactile, like the use of baby alpaca.”

1205 AW2014.

For autumn/winter 2014, Gerbase took inspiration from sculptor Barbara Hepworth and the artists who colonised St Ives in Cornwall during the second world war, living alongside the local fishermen. The references are clear in smocks, overalls, fishing jumpers, blanket coats and wide-legged trousers, in leather, mohair and marino.

Gerbase loves the idea – which she sees as typically masculine – of curating a wardrobe over a lifetime, instead of buying clothes that put the wearer’s body on show for others. Her label isn’t showy, but every garment includes a “little code” or “hidden message”: small, deliberate ‘mistakes’ “like the wrong-coloured right cuff or an unexpected internal pocket,” she says: “With these surprises I try to communicate with the person wearing the clothes in subtle ways.”

She is serious about comfort and function, too. “At Hardy Amies the goal was to make something a person will put on and just forget about – if you feel conscious and have to adjust yourself all the time, that is not a successful garment. That has really stayed with me.” 1205.eu

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