Buyers and press who made the effort to struggle across London for Fashion East ended up feeling very smug with themselves. The tenth installment of this initiative (it selects two or three young designers to show per season) turned up gold.
Marios Schwab, a 26-year-old half-Greek, half-Austrian designer came out with the freshest surprise of the London shows: a collection that was not only precociously well made, but also stamped with an authentic viewpoint. "It was about growing up in Athens," Schwab said. "About being young and wild." For him, believe it or not, that means the early nineties, and his collection went there with short, bra-topped jersey dresses implanted with silver metal cutouts and suspended on complex straps. The spirita frank homage to Alaïa, with a touch of Versace thrown inlooked nevertheless like the work of a young perfectionist with an eye of his own. Maria Luisa Poumaillou, of the influential Paris boutique Maria Luisa, left raving.
If Schwab was a hard act to follow, the cropped mannish tailoring and geometrically pieced dresses of Spijkers en Spijkers, identical twin Dutch designers, showed enough polish to make the audience pay attention. Their contribution was another encouraging sign of the confident mix of European ideas that are now incubating in London. It was followed by a dose of old-school London theatrics from Gareth Pugh, a recent Central Saint Martins graduate. All one needs to know is that it involved faces covered in pink gelatinous masks, red nylon skirts buoyed up by balloons, flesh-color latex boots, and a stiffly sculpted coat-cum-art-piece that lit up in the dark. And most of it worn by transvestites. Clearly an Alexander McQueen wannabe and certainly not everyone's cup of tea, Pugh provided the second moment of the evening that felt like the optimistic early nineties all over again.