With his first solo show last season, Michael van der Ham made himself a name on every editor's ones-to-watch list. His way of crafting Franken-chic pastiches of specially sourced fabrics and sartorial references was unexpectedly beautiful and affecting.
Those showing up today to see more of the same were in for something of a surprise, as van der Ham opened with a series of jewel-hued, crushed-velvet looks—all in one color and one fabric. The designer explained backstage after the show that this was still in keeping with his previous work, with its blend of retro elements in a single and still singular garment. ("Twenties, fifties, sixties—I just like to reference lots of different eras," he said.) He chose a long pile velvet so its grain lines would reveal the craft behind his pieced-together dresses and tops, worn with matching loose silk trousers.
After the velvet, van der Ham showed disco-worthy Lurex intarsia knits, which took his collage idea one step further with solid, sparkling blocks of color spliced with a gold cabbage floral into a sweater dress or cardigan. That disco-age metallic was even groovier on pants covered with jacquard fringe. The counterpoint to that glitz: tailored jackets in a black or ivory knitted wool and mohair that had the texture of astrakhan when you looked closely.
Did it have the same impact as last season? It's debatable, even though van der Ham's ideas still shone through. What's not in question is that, rendered in this form, his concepts are infinitely more retail-ready.