Somebody teetering on the edge of a precipice yet being continually dragged back by their shirt collar. That's the feeling you get looking at a Michael van der Ham show. In somebody else's hands all of these clashing colors, textures, materials, and tastes could be a complete disaster. Yet almost in the moment it is about to unravel, you can see how in control this designer was all along.

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.