Paramount of all human instincts is that of survival - and evidently this is what AF Vandevorst have taken as their inspiration for Autumn/Winter 2009. The show opened with their take on hunter-gatherer: a model laded with a huge woolen knapsack covering three-quarters of her khaki-wrapped body. Chic fatigues made up the opening section, slicing khaki with black Constructivist shapes and occasionally strapping and buckling the whole thing over with bit-and-bridle inspired leather harnessing. There was, indeed, something horsey going on: the shoes resembled horses hoofs and a few pairs of (surprisingly believable) camelhair jodhpurs were tricked out with high-fastened blanket-wool shirts. Utilitarian was the key theme, which was something of a relief in a season often drenched with disco-glitter excess. No chance of that here, with camel and grey the key tones in boiled and felted wool, cut high in neck and long in wrist in the precise and severe lines of Soviet proletarian garb. Protection too emerged - all that voluminous wool inevitably had an armour-like quality to it, the models swathed with stockingette over head and hands, and one wrapped protectively in a quilted blanket-cum-ballgown of greige felt. With the retro/revival roundabout running at full-tilt to the eighties, AF Vandevorst looked further back for their inspiration - namely the eighties own revivalist source in the harsh, triangular silhouette of the 1940s. Theirs was softened, and widened, so shoulders slipped off the body and trench volumes were pumped up to sit square. That said, Vandevorst didn't entirely shake off the omnipresent eighties, hence there was much to remind one of eighties Comme des Garcons and Yamamoto - the felted, curvilinear melton-wool shirt with dirndl skirt was practically an all-out homage to the latter, but this is by no means pejorative. And when the tide is turning from ostentatious luxury, Vandevorst offered a solution: chevron-worked rabbit-fur coats that combined a subtle touch of luxe with a genuine instinct for survival.
When the tide is turning from ostentatious luxury, Vandevorst offered a solution: chevron-worked rabbit-fur coats that combined a subtle touch of luxe with a genuine instinct for survival.