'Abstract' was Charles Anastase's watchword for S/S 2010 - but erase from your minds any thoughts of Pollocked 1950s canvasses or misplaced Picasso-isms. Anastase's take on abstract is decidedly French and, peculiarly, eighteenth century. Remember those Charles Le Brun baroque allegories where eighty yards of taffeta tumble across a wooded glen? No? Well, Anastase evidently spent long hours wandering Versailles as a child. In a gilt ormolu'd salon (unexpectedly tucked away in Finsbury), he showed his own version of said Rococo abstraction. Models had ruddily-rouged cheeks reminiscent of the Versailles court favourites immortalised by Boucher, alongside lazy chignons and single drop earrings. Their bodies were swathed in fabric, free-falling from breast to ankle, occasionally structured by a pouf of tulle or a light crinoline hooping the hem. Perhaps this was intended to be innocently, elegantly deshabille, and the duchesse satin and raw silk swagged across the models and roughly sewn were evidently meant to look improvised and dramatic. But with their heavy-handed stitching and trailing threads, these experiments ended up looking messy - not least in their sheer excessive number, begging exactly what there would be to sell at the end. A finale dress seemingly massed from orange dusters did little to dispell the rag-monger feel. It wasn't all bad: thrown over those creased, shapeless bales of fabric and tacked tulle were neat sacque-back trench coats or short jackets with Watteau pleats across the shoulderblades, and a pair of loose-waisted Hessian dungarees - despite the description - had all the charm with which an equally earthy Mellors seduced Lady Chatterley. The same jute crafted into one of those waistless, expansive-hemmed ballgowns, however, had the aesthetic charm of a potato sack. Frustrating.
Anastase's take on abstract is decidedly French and, peculiarly, eighteenth century.