Instantly recognisably and infinitely saleable, the print dress has been a staple backbone of many a collection not only this season, but for the past three or four years. It is to this phenomenon that we can attribute the leap of Peter Pilotto up the London pecking order, currently sitting as one of London's hot young labels to watch. Living up to this reputation obviously entails showing in a dark, dirty and distinctly 'edgy' car-park, but kudos to the Pilotto team in choosing the bowels of sophisticated London department store (and, naturally, Peter Pilotto stockist) Selfridges rather than the stereotypical east-end hovel.
Kudos to them too for their Autumn/Winter 2010 collection, which was undoubtedly their finest to date. Exploring the man-made and natural world is one of the oldest stories in the fashion book, but Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos gave it a fresh and exciting spin, twisting tweed, calfskin, printed silks and metallic leather together into a whorled melange of artifice and nature. They clashed delicate, earth tones of flesh and muted, muddy browns and taupe with more strident shades of blue, mauve and a rich, forceful safety orange - occasionally, the latter was so loud it shouted down the other shades, as in a traffic-cone tangerine leather coat-dress, but this was only an occasional slip-up. Certainly the prints were superb: paisley was apparently the source, overblown until the pattern was pixellated and mottled, and byte the end resembled some form of reptilian skin shed across the fabric.
The collection revolved around the aforementioned pretty print dresses, some simple draped shirt-dresses or sheaths with skinny knit arms, other more ambitious creations of swirling, amorphous georgette ruched and gathered gently around the figure. Nevertheless, this collection also saw Peter Pilotto attack a broader range of garments and fabrics than ever before, but with extreme confidence, exposing darts and seams like fins across the bodies of trousers and outerwear. Their neat to-the-knee Harris tweed coats had contrast yoke and sleeves in leather, sometimes a detail such as collar or cuff tufted in fur to add to the mix. That occasionally looked messy - I'm thinking of the Louie Vouie-alike chain-slung fur bumbag, or a fox patch-pocket that resembled a stray merkin - but generally they handled the challenging mix of textures, colours and prints with aplomb. Best in show was a molten, single-sleeve blouse that cascaded down one arm, worn with skinny, angularly-cut trousers in taupe leather. It theory, it could have graced any catwalk (alongside many variants) in Paris, New York or Milan. In practice, however, it could really only have come from this increasingly sophisticated London talent.