Dignified is not a word bandied about often in fashion, but it seems the only truly appropriate term for Yohji Yamamoto's poetic, romantic and artistic collection, a play on forms, on textures and overridingly on subtle, mesmerising use of a handful of colours to vibrant and emphatic effect. Yamamoto's showing turned its back on fashion - quite literally, in that models first came out with their backs to the omnipresent cameras, allowed the audience to survey the garments and only then turning to make their slow, stately procession towards the blinding flashes.
It started with merely black on black, an interplay of the textures of black silk-crepe and felted wool melton, raised seams and exposed darts the only details on the simple swathes of flawlessly cut cloth. Occasionally there was the feel of the eighteenth century, as in the free-fall of silk panels on the back of trapeze dresses, necklines dipping in back to expose the nape and pleated and tucked collars flowing softly over shoulders. Later, colour began to bleed in - picked out as streaks of pigmented pomade in Eugene Souleiman's Belle époque pompadours and the roughly brushed vermillion lipstick on whitened faces, then in the clothes themselves. First navy began to emerge, albeit the darkest of hues, evident only in its contrast to pious, inky black, later white, introduced as piping picking out those seams and darts. Next were lipstick hues of cerise and brilliant pillar-box red, trickling through accessories and clouding through hems and cuffs as if eating away at the darkness. A sleeve tricked out in fuzzy red mohair, matched with a dipping hem. Then, a dress, black at the back, exploded into dazzling ruched lobes of scarlet at the front with all the splendour of a Renaissance grandee. Yamamoto's felted wool coats had stature without weight - in every shade of black, rounded at shoulder and swathing the body in asymmetrics, a limb perhaps emerging abstractly, pointed lapels and exaggerated portrait collars standing proud of the neck and framing the face. Two were slice from nape to coccyx and hem to waist over bared flesh, but neither seemed vulgar, or indeed out of place, merely a logical conclusion to Yamamoto's equation of wrapping body in fluid cloth.
For the second time today, the final was sublime and (at risk of pretension) almost transcendental: a Ring a Ring o' Roses circle of six models reiterating the collection's floor-length coats, only this time in radiant hues of rich, intense vermillion and shocking cyclamen.