David Koma loves dropping an art-world reference. It's a way to intellectualise his snappy, pap-happy dresses, elevating their taste-level in the process. It's cultural capital - you don't have to be a student of postmodernism to figure that one out. Last season Yayoi Kusama's polka-dots peppered Koma's clingy dresses like couture buckshot, but for spring 2012 he'd moved on to pastures new: the tatouage body-paint of Korean artist Kim Joon (Dunce caps all around: I had to Google it too).
Koma had moved on in more ways than just his inspiration, however - he's really thinking about how to progress his aesthetic beyond those tight little dresses. Of course, they formed a good proportion of the show - they sell, after all, and sell very well indeed. This time, Joon's body-paint designs were combined with Polynesian tribal tattoos to decorate the fabric of the dresses, transforming the body itself into an intricate canvas. That's a complicated route around saying that Koma etched graphic devore into chiffon panels, pieced transparent with opaque and studded those dresses with sequins and plates of perspex in tessellated designs. They didn't just come as dresses, but transparent trousers and taut little tops colour-blocked with neon, the body-art references recalling early nineties Gaultier. Koma's rendering, however, was more wearable - dare we even say sportswear, as summarised in block-patterned trousers under a zingy yellow t-shirt. The colour palette was strict, revolving around white, black and highlighter-bright citrus shades of pink and lemon.
Sometimes, Koma let the tribal run away with him a little. He belted micro-kilts of abstract leather panels over those dresses, which looked great for half-a-dozen looks but started to get a bit messy when fringed calf panels got thrown into the mix. It kind of looked as if a slightly-overdressed exec had sat on the office paper-shredder while thoroughly sozzled during the Christmas party. Jutting as a peplum over the hips, however, they added an extra dimension to the streamlined looks. And as a sidetone, this time the streamlining included stretch, allowing Koma's models to stride confidently rather than hobble painfully. That looked really modern.