Peter Pilotto are in the vanguard of London's print explosion - tot up the number of designers on schedule whose speciality is a little something splashed all over with pattern pyrotechnics (we're talking everything from four-figure gowns down to iPad covers here) and you can see what lead Christopher de Vos and the eponymous Peter to seek to distance themselves from their erstwhile signature.
Gone was the eye-popping colour and graphic meshing of prints for A/W 2011, replaced instead with a simple, clean graphicism. We're not going to mention the c-word (Celine, that is) when talking about that undeniable urge to reduce, but there was a flavour of Philo to the opener, a sleek white greatcoat over trousers and a twisty-turny drippy top, with only a whisper of print in the lining. That coiled drape was repeated in a few tunics, while the coat was a leitmotif, in black with teal panels, occasionally with velvet laid across the collar. In its chic, spare lines, it could have come from many a Milanese design house.
Therein lay the issue - where was Pilotto in those austere officer's coats, or indeed elsewhere in this stripped-back, pared-down offering? There were a few muted prints, based on Russian Constructivism and wire fencing, twisting about the form in honey-mustard yellow and maroon. But even that occasionally faded into white as if erased like that famous Robert Rauschenberg drawing - or, for the less intellectual, maybe just bodged on a boil-wash. The double and triple lengths and layering of skirts, trousers, tunics and coats was adroit - it's difficult to handle all that fabric, and these were amongst the best we've seen of this idea in London. But it's an idea we've seen more than a few times already. Overall this collection didn't have much of an identity, or leave much of an impression - and, for good or bad, that's an accusation that we've never been able to level at Pilotto before.