The third day of London Fashion week closed with the Central Saint Martins M.A. show, an experience that can be described as everything from indicator of trends past present and future, to barometer of London cool, to dazzling (if slightly dizzying) fifteen minutes of fame for some twenty-two fledgling designers - some of whom, granted, we may never hear from again. Regardless of opinion, the one thing all can agree on is that it will no doubt be the steepest learning-curve these young designers will face: their first exposure to the full glare of the intentional press. Inevitably, some shone whilst other stumbled, and although each collection warranted individual examination, alas it is possible only to focus on the highlights.
The Central Saint Martins M.A. is always a topsy-turvy show - what else can be expected by cramming so many creatives into such a short space - but as usual, a few trends dominated. Generally, these chime with what's hapening in fashion at large - these students are renowned as the world's most plugged-in, after all. This time, in line with the stripped-back displays on many a catwalk for Autumn/Winter 2010, an air of minimalism pervaded. Sometimes it manifested itself as sterile cleanliness, as in Tze Goh's twisted neoprene and Sissi Goetze's almost surgical sportswear; sometimes in sharp, graphic shape, as in Thomas Tait's box-constructs in black felt that stood out both literally and figuratively. When decoration was included, it was generally pared back (Amy Stephenson's Memphis-style blown glass plates being a notable exception), and often crafted from the fabric of the frock itself. Adam Andrascik tore great chunks out of dresses constructed like paper carrier-bags in pale blue, pink and brown, the strips of fabric danging down as abstract take on applique and fringe. It had roots in Margiela-esque deconstruction, and even deeper in the thirties work of Schiaparelli, but was strong and graphic. Speaking of slicing out fabric, Lilly Heine opted to chop thick slabs of multilayered material as her only decoration. Again restrained to a pastel palette, but this time precisely cut into angled rectinlinear shapes and curved petals reminiscent of architectural details, her collection scooped a justified raft of awards, including the joint Harrods design award. This she shared with Jackie Lee, whose collection compressed workwear into garments so brutally simple even the details of lapels, collars and cuffs became mere relief patterns traced across the exterior of the garment. It was sharp, slick and sophisticated - adjectives which perhaps couldn't be applied to Trine Guldager's menswear, but still didn't dimish its charm. A grungy, homespun collection of oatmeal knit tabbards, elongated shirts and waxed cotton, Guldager seemed inspired by country pursuits, crafting trousers that resembled waders shown alongside a stand-out utility-pocketed leather vest sliced away to simply a yoke at the back. If you had to take my word for it, these would be the names to watch out for on a catwalk schedule near you very soon.