And so London takes over the international fashion relay from New York. It was, as ever, a slow start. The big names—Suzy, Anna, Cathy—are either airborne or enjoying a disco nap. The first day's shows, too, felt more like an opening act, but there were a few gems to be seen.
First up, Fyodor Golan. Winners of Fashion Fringe 2011, the duo has been applying their couturish intricacy to modern shapes ever since, with this season their most accomplished to date—further justifying McQueen comparisons. Inspired by Luis Buñuel’s 60s porno-chic classic Belle de Jour, this was a collection of racy tailoring, Helmut Newton-esque cleavage, and fetishistic contrasting of black, white, azure, and rust. With bondage chokers and the models’ blood-red lips, the audience was almost put more in the mind of Catherine Deneuve’s other erotic classic, 1983’s vampire hit, The Hunger. Front-rowers were visibly fanning themselves.
If that wasn't avant-garde enough, how about the avant-avant-garde? Namely, the Central Saint Martins MA degree show, rightly known as "the future of fashion in 20 minutes." Some recent graduates include Christopher Kane, Mary Katrantzou, Marios Schwab, Louise Goldin—aka everyone who’s anyone in contemporary London fashion. One almost feels sorry for the new crop. Lord knows what course director Louise Wilson would do if they don’t live up to their predecessors.
The ecclesiastical austerity of these newbies was notable. Black, Franciscan-brown and Virgin Mary-blue were the colors of the evening. Nayoung Moon and Toma Stenko both used irregular, modernist shapes to radical effect. Elsewhere, Jaimee McKenna and Jessica Fawcett used innovative pleating to give volume and interest in otherwise modest dresses. A rare shot of exuberance and color came from Sadie Williams, whose chevron-quilted metallic maxi-dresses resembled a 1970s vision of the future. Winner of the L’Oreal Bursary Award went to Elish Macintosh for her minimal jersey and leather pieces, heavily constrained by monastic rope-work. Who said fashion had to be frivolous?