Central Saint Martins
February 15, 2013 London
Eilish Macintosh, for instance, showed models dressed in long black shifts that were bound with what looked like enormous white shoelaces. The mood was more Joan of Arc than Fifty Shades. One model was even wearing a noose, halfway to martyrdom. But a couple of cheeky peekaboo cutouts anticipated the designer's second group, which used the same idea of binding and lacing on playful vinyl separates. The versatility was enough to win Macintosh the evening's big prize, the L'Oréal Professionel Creative Award, presented to her by Christopher Kane, a Wilson star from an era before the decorated dress was an object of scorn. Which meant his influence was as nothing beside that of the latest CSM breakouts Shaun Samson, master of the man-smock, and Craig Green, dresser of Druids, both of whose fingerprints could be detected in the work of Marie Rydland, Nayoung Moon, and Toma Stenko. Nicomede Talavera layered his men in black and white tunics, disciples fighting the good fight on this earth. And when that battle had been won—or lost—Hwan Park turned his men into angels, draping diaphanous wings over all-white jackets, shirts, and pants.
Heavenly choirs also awaited the women of Sadie Williams in their stiffly gilded, stiffly gliding robes, like sci-fi priestesses—or, as Love editor Alex Fury rather more pithily phrased it, Disco Daleks. If the religiosity was less overt in Jaimee McKenna's and Jessica Fawcett's designs, their emphasis on pleating gave their clothes a neo-medieval (or neo-Miyake) flair that could be shoehorned into the general air of piety. Likewise, the monochrome rigor of Assaf Reeb's and Hampus Berggren's menswear, which managed the delicate balancing act of seeming to mortify flesh as it bared it.
The biggest cheer was reserved for textile designer Elena Crehan's elaborate collages of lace and tufty feathers, cut into abbreviated smock shapes and paired with fishnet tights and black oxfords. The fact that her models were men provided the same kind of frisson Matthew Bourne got with his all-male Swan Lake. But even here, boys in lace suggested something vaguely church-y.
Professor Wilson often sounds despairing when she talks about the state of fashion, so it was possible to interpret the show as a lengthy meditation on her crisis of faith, one her disciples would undoubtedly be aware of. In which case, they were sending her a resoundingly reassuring message. Faith? You gotta have it.