The real issue with David Koma is not talent but taste. The boy is evidently amply skilled at chopping-up a second-skin frock to within an inch of its life: he's been doing it terribly well since his BA show. But how to ensure said dress ends up on the right kind of customer rather than pap-snapped on a schnozzled reality television star mid-red carpet? That's the main challenge facing this fledgling talent as he enters his second season on the official schedule.
He dealt with some of those issues head-on in this show. Not slicing your hemlines at crotch level, for one, is a start - Koma got the memo about plummeting skirts and hobbled his about the knee, although his heels seemed still far too high, high-street and clunky for 2011. The body-gripping line of the dresses - inspired, he said, by fifties couture, but in fact resembling what Roland Mouret was doing five years ago, and Azzedine Alaia many moons before that - are starting to look passe too, but the technical know-how to stop those skirts riding up around your armpits meant Koma just about got away with his taut shapes. Not sure that one will last another season though.
It was what was going on inside those silhouettes that caused the most concern. This season, Koma took inspiration from Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese contemporary artist obsessed with pattern, repetition - and the polka dot. Combine that with Leigh Bowery's purposefully pock-marked countenance and you have Koma's decorative motif. Printed polka-dots are of course nothing interesting, but Koma laser-cut his from fine wools, creating an aerated layer moving across another surface of printed silk. The effect was occasionally stunning - again, that technique was second to none, innovative and interesting, which is something every luxury product should aspire to be. But multicoloured mink pom-poms sprouting like fungus from random points on the torso hardly scream luxury, neither do polka-dotted face-prints which resembled not-so-great rip-offs of those seminal Richard Nicoll Linder Sterling graphics from last year. Nevertheless, this collection felt like a step in the right direction - albeit faltering, even stumbling at times. Lets hope next season Koma can make it unaided.