Thanks to its fiery visionary, professor Louise Wilson, the Central Saint Martins M.A. degree course has set the gold standard for international fashion education. All the rising names of London fashionChristopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Marios Schwab, Todd Lynn, Roksanda Ilincichave passed through the white hell of professor Wilson's crits, while many others populate the design studios of Dior, Lanvin, Chanel, Prada, Marni, Gucci, Jil Sander, and more.
That's why, once a year, the graduation ceremony is packed with headhunters, newshunters, and top store buyers craning to see a show that has by now become more than just an indicator of local Brit ideas. The class of 007 is German, Polish, Swedish, Dutch, Japanese, Australian, Greek, Spanish, Korean, and Russian, as well as Englishand this year, it was a pair of Russians who swept off the glittering trophies.
Tatiana Katinova's long, lean black-and-white tailoring had a high padded shoulder with a rounded compactness that was echoed in the hipsjudging by this collection, she could slot into a job at Jil Sander tomorrow. She won the overall prize, while Georgy Baratashvili scooped an £8,000 check as his reward for redesigning Puma sneakers as gold-and-silver dance shoes (they'll be delivered, for men and women, to Puma stores in August).
Meanwhile, the best of their classmates' collections added an index of which way the avant-garde is pushing things. Annalisa Dunn's total sweater dressingall multistriped poncho dresses, hoodie-scarves, wraps, hats, and socksadded more energy to the excitement bubbling around knits. Kryzsztof Strozyna's oversize lacquered-wood geometric cuffs, giant knot-pins, and chains looked great on belted beige dresses with the big, rounded shoulders that are the London trend. Tessa Birch designed wide simple dress shapes with bold angular blocks in gray, black, and mustard yellow, and filled them in with patches of PVC and plastic paillettes.
Overall, no Christopher Kane burst to the forefront this year, but this cohort of Saint Martins talent still provided plenty of directional clues: in with padded shoulders, calf-length skirts, scarves, wraps, stripes, and strong colorand out with last year's volume, flounces, and eighties body dresses. That's the kind of pointer the industry comes to snaffle up here, even if not a single one of these graduates is ready to sell a stitch.