The Central Saint Martins' MA show always divides opinions. And that's the truly great thing about it. For every eye entranced by, say, Malene List Thomsen's latex and chamois leather full-length frocks or Helen Lawrence's chewed-looked felted wool tunics and transparent PVC jodhpurs, another will be repulsed, instead hailing Jessie Hand's marbling, say, or John-Gabriel Harrison's sleek, minimal menswear. It takes all sorts.
A few things, however, are never in question. One is the undisputed and authoritative leadership of Professor Louise Wilson: 2012 marked her twentieth year at the helm of the MA, with twice that number of major-league fashion stars to her name. The other is that more stars will inevitably emerge: just look at this season's catwalk schedule, with three of her 2010 graduates making their on-schedule catwalk debut, and a half-dozen in the wings almost ready to take off.
If the Central Saint Martins MA show is a kingmaker, then who would be king for 2012? The L'Oreal winners are always a good indication of burgeoning talent to watch (David Koma and Christopher Kane swept them up in the past) - this season, they were taken by Luke Brooks and Craig Green, who each exemplified the opposite 'trends' (if such a thing exists) that proliferated in this MA year. Brooks marked himself out with a feel for recycling, mop-top shoes, knitted salvaged string and tattered, Stig Of The Dump outfits that seemed to make a statement about the economics of waste in modern society. I flashed back to those photographs of a decrepit and deserted Detroit following the collapse of manufacturing: Brooks' garments seemed the perfect attire to roam those post-apocalyptic ruins. That make-do-and-mend ethos informed a number of collections - Kenji Kawasumi's highly-structured suits and tabards, crafted from shaved foam and resembling dryer lint painstakingly cobbled into ephemeral garments, stayed in the mind.
Green's menswear had strong print (a London trademark if we ever need establish one), and abstract fabric manipulation: his final outfits created sinister silhouette-shacks around his models, with only their eyes peeping through slits. Believe it or not, that was a trend - two fingers up the Parisian fashion establishment, maybe? Petra Metzger created visors that swirled around the heads of her fetishistic, PVC-clad figures, while Sabina Brytesson spliced lingerie lace into garments that referenced burkas and Legionnaire kepis. All very conceptual, but personally I'll be watching for more of Timur Kim's graphic patchworked denim and wicked way with flocking; and the simple manipulation of artfully-engineered ribbed knit from Mei Lim-Cooper. They seemed alive - with a life off the catwalk and magazine page, no less.