Creativity versus commerce is a debate that rages long, hard and loud across London fashion, designers grappling with the demands with various degrees of success.
Good fashion holds a mirror up to its time, reflecting the moment in which it is created in material microcosm. Great fashion can indicate what the future may hold, question our social mores, challenge us, provoke. It can sometimes incite fear. It can sometimes even be a catalyst for change. Fashion, in short, should be much more than clothes.
Those are the kind of things that run through your head (or, at least, my head) at a House of Holland show. After all, Holland's clothes themselves require little thought. Sometimes it feels as if they are simply something bright and attention-grabbing to drag the photographers' lenses away from whatever A-though-Z list celebrities are decorating the front row. For Autumn/Winter 2012 Holland did seventies. It was inspired, allegedly, by the mass-appeal, massively successful American comedy series 'Mork and Mindy', which yielded floppy jersey skirts in contrasting brights, a smattering of houndstooth checks, rainbow-spectrums on trumpet flares. As simple to summarise as that. They were perfectly adequate examples of clothing - they clothed the body, and at certain points (and to certain eyes) looked relatively attractive. However, Holland's vision of the seventies is so stereotypical, so ubiquitous, it occasionally looked as if he'd simply dredged through a local fancy-dress shop for the least challenging components of their 'Saturday Night Never' bargain bin. Still clothing, true - but fashion? No.
The fashion, in fact, was the very act of pilgrimage - the artifice, the theatre of the catwalk show itself, theoretically transformed these mostly-mundane offerings into fashion. That allows the price to be inflated, encourages magazines to shoot them, and permits Mr Henry Holland to shift a few hundred thousand colourful packets of tights and underpants for mark-ups far beyond those imagined by, let alone afforded to, other British designers. Creativity versus commerce is a debate that rages long, hard and loud across London fashion, designers grappling with the demands with various degrees of success. House of Holland lost the battle this season, and came down hard on one side. To borrow a catchphrase from another seventies television stalwart, can you guess what it is yet?