Savvy designers all seem to be looking east, so it was no surprise to see the first models strut out in outfits inspired by Manga, Kabuki make-up and Japanese 'Light Trucks' (think Transformers crossed with Blackpool Illuminations and you're halfway there) at the Peter Pilotto show. After all, Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos are certainly two of the most plugged-in creatives working in London today - both in terms of inspiration and commercial acumen. After cracking the United States, they're glancing across to the land of the Rising Sun as their next port of call, at least judging by this print paean to all things oriental.
The melting-pot was diverse: that mega-watt truckage was the obvious aesthetic roots of Peter Pilotto's vibrant opening numbers, glowing in incandescent hues of chrysophrase, mauve, cerulean and a saffron so virulent it seemed to vibrate. A collaboration with Schneiders of Vienna yielded down-stuffed print-popped parkas that pumped the models' torsos until they resembled Japanese comic-book heroes. Those prints quickly segued into chrysanthemum fronds like blown-up ikebana arrangements splashed across dresses, some crusted with sequins. Multicoloured fox stoles and coats looked like a cross between Japanese Kawaii faux-fur and that curiously popular gelatinous mochi dessert, in globules shaded in sugary raspberry, mint and green tea.
All terribly pretty and terribly, terribly commercial. In fact, at times this Pilotto show looked less like the Far East than the Upper East Side, a phalanx of immaculately-groomed Manhattan matriarchs wandering off-course and meandering through a disused east London fish-market on their way to a penthouse soiree. Pilotto's prints were inventive, but superficial, Chinese and Japanese references mingled, then mangled, whizzed together into a fine paste and thickly applied to a strictly limited (and limiting) canvas of knee-length, skin-tight cocktail dresses. Some had crissy-crossy bands winding their way around the bodice, feeling like those odes to obis meeting Araki bondage we have seen many times before. In short, Peter Pilotto's vision of the east was thoroughly, adroitly westernised, perfectly packaged for Park Avenue concubines. It all felt a little too sanitised to leave a lasting impact.