by Penny Martin .

Back and Schwab: the right lines

Two designers that have concentrated -nay obsessed- on the silhouette over the past two seasons are Ann-Sofie Back and Marios Schwab. Though, to different effect. Ann-Sofie appears to have undergone something of a consolidation over the past year, where the many challenging aspects of her aesthetic and approach have been edited down to a product more easy to understand. Her concept is no less provocative, rest assured. In a slightly masochistic statement in her show notes, she explained that she deliberately chooses a concept/stimulus that is unpalatable to her, so that she doesn't tire of it during development. This time the distinctly unloveable territory of 'astrology' translated into a sequence of witty, minimal, monochrome garments, executed in her trademark, BACK-wards catwalk format. The effect was a show experience much less confusing to her audience than the amusing 'slap in the face' she has dealt out in seasons gone by.

The must-see, Topshop supported, Fashion East showcase is where editors and stylists go to see ideas above all else. For these are ostensibly the young designers without financial backers. One might expect to overlook cheap fabrics, therefore, or the odd wonky seam in the spirit of nurturing nascent creativity. No such generosity was required in the case of young Marios Schwab, who wowed crowds for a second time with his overtly Alaia-inspired technical virtuosity. Whereas last season, glamorous clothes were clevely constructed from fabrics referencing the trashy world of fetish wear, for Autumn/Winter Schwab luxed out into velvet, taffeta and lace. Few flashy flourishes were required in this supremely pared-down collection, a backstage example of which is pictured above. Why bother when the cut's this good?