Mr Saturday’s Ballet Royale
By Paul McLauchlan
For his latest collection, Joey Gollish endeavoured to establish Mr Saturday as more than just a line of graphic T-shirts and sloganed hoodies by adding some pomp and circumstance from the 17th century French court. Chief amongst his inspirations was Louis XIV, the ‘Sun King’ and his impact on ballet. With the runway show choreographed by Sipheshihle November, a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, Gollish transposed the decadence of the 1600s to Spring-Summer 2024.
Taking cue from Louis XIV’s penchant for ornamental fashion, Gollish emphasised eveningwear with couture flourishes as a thrilling proposition for men’s wardrobes. He introduced printed silks and cummerbunds, appliqués, and tulle details; metallic woven bouclé elevates suiting, bomber jackets, and shorts. As every monarchy bears its own crest, Mr Saturday is introducing a new logo format presented across embroideries and appliqués, printed silks and linings. On the more relaxed side of things, a cashmere and cotton-brushed knit appear in cardigans, button-ups, and polos. The result is as much a jaunt through fashion history as it is an assertion of how modern nobility – or Mr Saturday stalwarts – will dress at the dawn of 2024.
“Nowadays, we have this opportunity to take influence from so many places and you can wear what you want. Rather than being called a poser, you’re now just seen as expressing yourself, which is a beautiful thing,” said Gollish, on a video call.
What was the starting point for this collection?
As with every season, we’re always talking about historical nightlife. This collection is called ‘Ballet Royale’ and it’s about Louis XIV and his impact on ballet, which was the nightlife of the time, and his broader impact on essentially starting the debt cycle that created the French Revolution. I learned a lot about Louis XIV’s selfishness as a young king who wanted to force people to watch his ballet, which was 12 or 13 hours long and from where he got the name ‘Sun King’, and how this produced so much beauty. He made all these advancements in fashion that still impact ballet today and, as a designer, I empathised with that way of having to create things, and feeling like I have to force people to watch this story.
How did you tailor the narrative to suit a modern audience?
I started to think about who is the royalty of today; who are we giving our attention to – watching their version of the ballet – and what beauty and destruction does that create. Practically speaking, it comes down to the silhouettes of dancers and the costumes in the ballet and people who attended it.
What was the most exciting aspect of the creative process?
Fabric was definitely the most interesting aspect of designing the collection. We were looking at modern royalty and thinking about what they would wear today. In old paintings, nobility would wear fur from this rodent that you can only really find in France, one that isn’t hunted anymore, and we looked at representing that in a modern way. We represented this as an urban fabric by creating a beautiful cashmere and cotton-brushed knit. Bouclé is obviously a very traditional French fabric, so trying to do that in our own way was important to us too and doing it in a way that was more Mr Saturday than traditional French.
How has your creative process changed over the years?
Over the past few years, I hope it’s become clear to people that the brand is evolving in a more mature direction, both with our own evolution and the evolution of our customer. This season, it’s playing out through a lot of tailoring with little flourishes of ballet throughout the collection.
What values are most important to Mr Saturday?
Mr Saturday is a community built around nightlife and subculture. I’m part of the generation that grew up before social media, but by the time I was 16, it all existed. I would know who I could talk to and be friends with by kids wearing skateboarding clothes or if they were into hip-hop, punk, or something else. Mr Saturday is supposed to be like that uniform and signal to people that music, culture, and nightlife, and the narratives and communities around them are important to you. What I try to do through the design is let people know that they’re actually more involved in this community than they think and they can experience cultural movements through the clothing. It’s important for us to invite more people to understand that.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.