CENTRAL SAINT MARTINS MA AW15’16 LONDON FASHION WEEK
There’s no way to recap this year’s strong Central Saint Martins graduate show without talking about Louise Wilson. The spirit of the former head of the Central Saint Martins’ M.A. program loomed very, very large over this evening’s proceedings, and not just because a formal memorial for Wilson took place earlier in the morning. This show was an homage to what Wilson created at CSM—a way of training fashion talent that boils down to the credo: Have great nerve, and back it with masterful technique. All 15 of these student collections were nervy in their own way, some dazzlingly so. But what was most impressive was that each and every effort was rigorous, the risk-taking matched by terrific technique.
The spirit of another Louise hovered as well. Many of the womenswear collections here owed a debt to the artist Louise Bourgeois. You could see Bourgeois’ take on the carnal and uncanny in the arresting silhouettes proposed by Krystyna Kozhoma, flare-leg bodysuits topped by surreally large ropelike ornamentation, and in the jaw-dropping knitwear looks designed by Matty Bovan, one of this year’s winners of the L’Oréal Professionnel Creative Award. Bovan is a major talent: His sculptural knit dresses were sui generis, wrapping around the body with a dancelike flow, and sprouting cobwebs of crochet and jewelry embellishments in a variety of materials. Keep an eye out for him. And keep an eye out, too, for Beth Postle, the evening’s other prizewinner: Her draped capes, featuring graphic swirls of color and lashes of black paint, were instantly distinctive. Postle also managed that neat fashion trick of making a hard idea look easy: Her white jumpsuit with black squiggly lines distilled her aesthetic into a commercial look so master-of-the-obvious in its appeal, you almost couldn’t believe you hadn’t seen it before.
The menswear here exhibited a quieter kind of inventive madness. There was a general theme of decay, witnessed in the off-takes on classic menswear silhouettes and the textiles that frequently looked to be dissolving or unraveling. James Theseus married that tone to one of dandyish sensuality, and found a real poetry in looks such as a cream-colored sweater lacquered in gold, worn with soft pink trousers. Charles Jeffrey, on the other hand, was one of the menswear designers focused on uniformity, but his oversize, pleat-detailed dress pants and slim, cropped velvet trousers revealed a talent for visualizing new men’s proportions that were viable as well as challenging.
There were many other highlights here. Too many to list, in fact. Celebs such as Kanye West and Victoria Beckham may have turned out for Wilson’s morning memorial, but watching the ideas unfold on the CSM runway tonight, you had to figure that if Wilson was looking down on the events of the day, she’d consider these kids the real stars.