“History does not repeat itself”, said Mark Twain, “but it does rhyme”. Renan Pacson’s new streetwear collection, Auto da fé, sensing a return to the hysteria of the witch hunts of yore,
offers a scathing critique and a warning by recalling the Spanish inquisition – and trying to choke the rhyme in its throat.

The first notable thing about the collection is the liberal use of oxblood throughout, recalling both the blood of the accused heretics, as well as the literal blood of oxen – used both in Israelite and Pagan sacrifice.
Some accessories, great chunky accents in bronze and old gold, recall a more primitive time, while presenting a modern twist.
Others, like a rope belt, symbolically make the wearer the victim of a sacrifice.

Renan Pacson also fell in love, of sorts, with the Sanbenito – the dramatic garment that heretics were forced to wear on the day of their show trial and execution. The 16th century sanbenitos were patterned with images of demons and horrific tortures; Renan Pacson uses crocodile skin and found materials to the same effect . Details like golden paint on his model recall the twisted trials of the past, like the “ordeal of water”, where heretics were forced to retrieve a stone from a cauldron of boiling water.

The medieval inspiration goes well with Renan Pacson’s signature striking volume and androgynous style. Likewise, his use of modern sport materials remains a trademark; here contrasted intensely with the rough sackcloth of the original.

Yet despite the darkness and barely-concealed anger of the collection’s founding, there remains a glimmer of hope: the Maid of Orl´eans. There is a hope underlying the collection that beneath the blood, death, fire, and religion, martyrdom leads to (postmortem) redemption.

(by Scott Molony)

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