Curves. They've been the foundation of Marios Schwab's work since he began, which oddly enough marks him out in a womenswear industry obsessed with ramrod-straight teenage bodies and designers who prefer creating unchallenging tubes of fabric than shaping demanding frocks around the female form.
More than ever before, curves were the foundation - and decoration - of Schwab's Autumn/Winter 2012 collection. Alongside that feminine topography he's always been fixated on, Schwab focused on the surfaces, swirling spirographs of embroidery across suiting and through lace, slicing sinuous seams and key-holing the necklines of cashmere sweaters. It was Art Nouveau meets Alien, the latter in the iridescent fabrics, gloved hands and flying saucer Philip Treacy hats, the former in the intricate, symmetrical guipure and vaguely foliate needlework bands whirling around bodices.
Schwab related the silhouettes back to last season's Femme Fatale - as many a Film Noir has taught us, all those curves can get dangerous. They can get dangerous for a designer too: some of the spiral-squiggled day suiting looked fussy, they and the prim lace-veiled dresses seemed musty for a designer known as one of the most innovative in London. Add wrist-gloves to the mix and it looked like 1952 rather than 2012. Full-length, full-on transparent evening-wear, in chiffon spangled with crystals or inserted with more of that lacquer-finish lace, was lovely, but done to a tried-and-tested formula and hence a little bit brainless. We're used to Schwab challenging our perceptions of modern beauty: although often beautiful, there was nothing challenging about this offering. Then again, it's nice for fashion journalists to give their little grey cells a break once in a while - and the retailers leaving the show wreathed in smiles seemed to have plenty food for thought. Schwab, after all, loves a scientific reference - and isn't selling a science in itself?