Central Saint Martins' M.A. degree show is always good, but the Class of 2006 exploded onto the London runway with such a sustained display of individual excellence (19 collections and not a dud among them) that the graduation presentation became the spectacle of the week. The headhunters who fish this elite international fashion gene pool scribbled constantly, checking names from Britain, Scandinavia, Israel, Japan, Germany, and Eastern Europe. Anna-Sara Davik reinvented the humble nylon mackintosh with whooshing ruffles and a floating train. Leili Morshed draped jersey into chic gray wool dresses. Alexis Giboin cut navy and black taffeta into scallop-edged, big-sleeved silhouettes, cinched with enameled owls. And Lisa Pritchard printed gold and silver lamé into multilayered tiers of fan pleats.
If there were trends, they were in the collective fascination for folds, knots, and pleats, and for experimenting with the classic trench (Molly Grad, Diasuke Okuyama, Lisa Pritchard). But it was the sheer conviction of these graduate students that was truly impressive. Menswear designer Dennis Jansson, for one, sent out such a believable gang of dirty-denimed bikers that they might've parked their Harleys outside. As for the prizes in this vintage year, they were swept up by Christopher Kane. The 23-year-old Glaswegian showed a series of extraordinary short dresses made from intricately worked frills, stretch lace, and lashings of nylon jingling with gold ringsa look that pushed good/bad taste to a whole new frontier. Afterward, Kane's pieces were shipped directly to Harrods, where they will be stopping window-shopping tourists in their tracks throughout the week. The next generation of young British fashioncrazed with creativity and boasting an astonishing level of professionalismhas just taken off.