Once a year, the graduation show of Central Saint Martins' M.A. course gives not just a sighting of new talent but, increasingly, a strong fashion direction of its own. The class of 2010, to judge from the 22 collections on Professor Louise Wilson's runway, is over the short, tight, sexy, glittery, printed things their elders are still turning out. This cohort likes geometry, flat planes of matte fabric, and pleating. They sculpt 3-D shapes in tailoring and jersey, knit raffia into amazing volumes, and push silhouettes to new attenuated-ly elegant proportions.
Is this a uniquely London thing? Only in its precociously professional standards of production and finish. (Professor Wilson demands no less.) In fact, the student body at this school is a truly international mix. Most of this year's graduates are Scandinavian, Asian, Russian, and American, with only a smattering of Brits. That's the nature of British fashion education now, and its energy feeds back into the vibrant multiracial culture that has been seeded in this city over the past few years. When they leave, these individuals will have internalized a sense of who they are and what it means to be original. Some will go on fully prepared to take up responsibilities in design teams around the world. Others, more likely, will want to stay in London, ready to compete with each other in a capital that, despite the recession, continues to encourage young designers to set up on their own.