Central Saint Martins
February 18, 2011 London
Neo-medievalism, neo-paganism, neo-apocalypsism, neo-tribalism…pick your -ism and stick a neo- on it. Wilson herself was cheered by what looked a definitive sensibility shift, away from the neat and tidy toward something more anarchic and defiant: young people doing what young people do best, in other words. That could mean anything from Jenny Postle's tufty voodoo scarecrows to Maarten Van Der Horst's bordello frills and Hawaiian prints, combined with a Comme-ish what-works-worst-together verve.
Still, there's something predictable about that. More fascinating was the interest in ritual. Rejina Pyo's high priestesses held life-size aboriginal totems in front of them. Helen Bullock, Yeori Bae, and Jamie Cockerill also made you think of robes, rather than dresses. And, as far as a futuristic celluloid cross-reference goes, it was intriguing to encounter not the usual Gattaca but the much more arcane Zardoz, with its fight to the death between the spiritual and the savage. Selections from a wardrobe for warriors of the wasteland might include Daniel Lee's yellow-splashed draped and knotted plaids; Pier Wu's tabards; Shaun Samson's artful hybrids of tartan and Aran knit; Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida's radically deconstructed denim; even Kathleen Kye's exploded sportswear, which, with Sasu Kauppi's designs, suggested that the influence of CSM alum Kim Jones still lingers in menswear.
As for the tomorrow's-stars-today challenge, the spotlight seemed to fall on Viktor Smedinge and Phoebe English. Far from the oversize, tribal proportions of his peers, Smedinge opted for the controlled, the precise, the architectural, scrolling fabric like an ancient manuscript—or a roll of wallpaper—over his outfits. In its quiet defiance of gravity, the effect was a little reminiscent of the couturier Roberto Capucci. English, on the other hand, flew the flag for the futuro-barbaric macabre, as pioneered by Gareth Pugh, another of Wilson's babies. Between the huge razor clam paillettes and the thickets of long, black Ringu hair, English proved that there'll forever be a place in the heart of the Saint Martins student body for the she-beast.