Central Saint Martins
February 20, 2009 London
What's certain is there's no sign of either despondency or fake optimism here—or of clutching onto the safety of worn-out references. Instead, what was on display looked like different facets of a clean-cut, colorful futurism that managed to ignore any association with eighties Starship Enterprise or sixties space-age cliché. Collectively, a lot of it involved planes of suede, panne velvet, and jersey, and bright color-blocking in bizarrely enjoyable combinations that shouldn't go together but somehow did.
Dutch student Michael Van der Haam patchworked elements of fifties, sixties, and seventies dresses into new configurations (brocade against mohair against jersey), splashed metallic paint on mismatched tights, and demonstrated great command of elegant asymmetry. Laura Mackness played a rigorous but witty game with double-knit jersey shifts over leggings in pink, grass green, and bright yellow, accented with funny placements of dots, knee patches, glove cutouts, and eyes. Abigail Briggs, a print student, dribbled minimal splashes of glitter paint across long satin dresses cut to catch the air and billow behind the wearer in motion.
It was all polished, accomplished, and considered down to the detail of every shoe—a level of finish that suggests these students are striving for more than top marks in their graduation parade. As official participants in London fashion week, they know this is their privileged opportunity to advertise themselves to the world. In more normal times, a good few of them would be thinking of starting out on their own, as Christopher Kane did three years ago. But what awaits them now? It takes more than a recession to shake their professor's faith in what they have to offer. After the show, she shook her head and said, "With the research skills and portfolios these kids have, there will always be people who want them. In fact, I know there are already. I just can't say who."