Michael van der Ham has been weightlifting a lot in the past few months, which could explain the new muscle in his Spring collection, an outing that marked a significant step forward for him. It's the first time he has shown outside of the Topshop or BFC venues, and to be sure, cutting the apron strings from Lulu Kennedy, the woman who discovered him, means a newfound responsibility—one that he's embraced with open arms.

This season he was inspired by Jackie Nickerson's book Farm, a photographic essay of Africans dressed in exotic fabrics. "I was riveted by the images," the designer said backstage. "They had such a way with working with fabric and body cover." And so does he: The multilayered patchwork thing he's known for was executed here with an almost scientific precision. With the early looks out—mash-ups of zebra prints, leopard, lime, and coral—he reinforced his signature, only with a more rigorous hand than before.

Then mid-show came the aha moment: a navy dress precisely, almost aggressively cut, but without that mismatched thing that has become his leitmotif. It's guaranteed to create a lot of interest on the shop floor. After that dress it was a bit of a comedown; a pair of evening gowns in particular didn't have the same finesse as that killer navy dress. But van der Ham had made his point about moving on—and it was duly noted.