Updated: Aug 4
The Simon Mo AW20 collection named 'Peek A Zoo' is inspired by the connections humans have with animals in a sense of child-like wonder and innocence, and it all started with a dream... Simon dreamt that he could talk to animals and as a sort of, wilderness whisperer, could experience their feelings and adventures alongside them. This dream inspired Simon to look more closely at the connection humans have with animals throughout history.
Simon Mo is an environmentalist and his fashion brand, debuted in 2018, has always been interested in the interaction between the human lifestyle with the natural world.
Many of the garments prints and shapes in this new collection are inspired by the uniforms of circus trainers and veterinarians; humans have always had a love and fascination with animals and Simon researched how animals have played a role in our religion, mythology, entertainment and as our companions.
However, what really took hold in this collection was climate change, and how the connections humans have with animals are not always good, such as, hunting and illegal breeding. The number of endangered species is growing rapidly and the desperate state of our wildlife is becoming devastating.
Simon chose to look at this situation with hope, and celebrate our love of animals. Popular culture such as Disney’s Mickey Mouse, The Jungle Book and The Legend of Tarzan have entertained us but also taught us, as children, that animals are important and should be respected and protected in their natural environment. This collection is presented through a childhood gaze, allowing the tone to be playful and pure and can be seen in the use of vibrant colour. The collection has a palette of blues, pinks and purples; the mixture of colours seem spontaneous and bold - the choice of a child is unaffected by self-consciousness and instead based on excitement. For example, a bright, royal blue overcoat and neon green lace-up boots.
This energy is continued throughout the collection with the inspiration of circus trainer costumes adding a flair of showmanship. And a few animal collars can be spotted, sometimes around the neck, but also, playfully around the thigh like a garter. This is a collection of childhood whimsy and playing dress-up.
There is a more serious tone featured in some of the garments is vertical stripes in a fleshy tone of pink, peach and red, with black definitions, which gives a tribal feel to the collection. Other features are giraffe print burnout, knitwear inspired by chinchillas and faux animal skins.
As children, we have a deep connection with animals, through toys, animation and cartoons they become our friends. Animation allows for animals to talk, be drawn as the same size as us and removes the reality of how our species interact. The props and layout of the presentation seemed to be like a playroom, with figurines of animals. This sort of presentation makes you think of that animal stuffed-toy you used to take care of and talk to, and now that animal is out there somewhere and needs our help. It is a presentation that awakens feelings of childhood hope and inclusivity.
All donations collected at the presentation went to Freedom for Animals. The charity began as the Captive Animals' Protection Society in 1957 and is one of the UK’s longest-running charities working to protect animals, they work through a combination of undercover investigations, research, campaigns, grassroots activism, political lobbying and education for animal rights.