Michael van der Ham
September 17, 2012 London
The precipitousness is one of the most appealing aspects of van der Ham's work. It gave his collection today a feeling of wildness, mixed with a certain steely politesse. To be so interested in fabric research, pattern, and color placement… The sheer workload involved is simply astonishing. It's an obsession—and maybe a compulsion—through and through. And while all of the best designers have a bit of this in them, van der Ham may have more than most.
This season's supremely controlled/uncontrolled fashion collage/bricolage was inspired by the surrealist art of the Spanish painter Joan Miró and the portraiture of the Malian photographer Malick Sidibé. An unlikely pairing, and not one that necessarily jumped out at you from the runway. But it is how this material sits side by side in van der Ham's head that matters (you get the feeling that most of these clothes are composed in the mind before anywhere else), and anyway, as he explained, "I don't want to be literal." As if he ever could. The array of fabrics (hand-painted by the designer himself), appliqués, and embroideries, the standout, specially designed dévoré and what van der Ham referred to as a "hairy jacquard," all made for a bristling and bravura display of technique. But also one that was as desirable to wear and own as just to admire. The compulsion to create both is the one that makes all good fashion.