Given the fact that Hannah Marshall
called her new collection Strict Machine, it seemed fair to expect more of the sculpted monochrome minimalism with which she's carved her niche as London's Lang/Sander disciple. The Rankin film that introduced her show promised something different, though: The short clip had the stoned eroticism of a Bill Henson photograph, more sensuous than strict. Wouldn't it have been a treat if Marshall had incorporated a little more of the former into her clothes? As it was, she imagined the show as a transformation from a 2-D opener to a 4-D climax, and if that reads as hard to grasp (trust us, it was even more opaque in the show manifesto, which was highfalutin in the extreme), it wasn't at all clear on the catwalk, either.
In fact, the fewer the dimensions, the more pleasing the clothes, as in the opening passage of strictly shaped pants and skirts paired with sheer black pieces. By show's end, Marshall was transmogrifying the silhouette with what looked like handfuls of book pages attached to shoulders and hips (she was inspired by the artist Brian Dettmer, who "autopsies" books). It was an earnestly experimental effort to add volume to the collection's fierce linearity, and it was brave of her to resist any suggestion of softness. But it couldn't help but look contrived next to the elegant simplicity of a double-collared shirtdress and a short-sleeved suede jacket.