Minimalism can be a hard sell - especially when proffered by young, idealistic designers who genuinely feel women will be willing to live their lives in hermetically-sealed laboratories if it means they get to wear a really great white coat. For all his grand delusions - such as the David and Goliath battle of pitching his first on-schedule London catwalk show against Vivienne Westwood and Topshop's Unique line - Thomas Tait knows what he's doing with his clothes.
If last season Tait tackled colour, and the season before form, Autumn/Winter 2012 was all about texture. And sensuality. That's something Minimalism is often missing - in hindsight, there wasn't much to make these clothes minimal, rich as they were in colour and surface detail. They were free of the print and embellishment that so often pop up in London fashion, but the cut itself was enough to feast your eye upon. They seemed very easy, but the sacque-back of a blouson shirt or sweeping line of an ankle-skimming greatcoat was compass-cutting at its most precise. Those greatcoats lived up to the moniker, in black, navy and a moss that was the only shot of colour alongside rich mustard. Last winter, they were the most expensive pieces in Tait's collection, but also the best-selling. The latest batch were undoubtedly worth whatever we'll end up paying
Texturally, Tait pushed himself hard. Alongside his felted wool melton and jerseys, he played with leathers and velvet, whorling fabric in tucks around a waistband on a knee-length skirt or tulip-shaped trouser and playing matchy-matchy with low block-heeled boots and gloves. The velvet was cut into padded t-shirts and slim trousers, the leathers into some outstanding short jackets - the best of that shape, however, were quilted wool, a cross between mid-sixties Dior and something a terribly chic stablegirl would wear to muck out the stables. There was a slight equestrian feel generally, especially the hard-brimmed jockey caps and autumnal palette. The horsey references felt apt, this was a thoroughbred collection, but Tait is a wild horse currently riding roughshod over rules both written and unwritten about London fashion week (i.e. don't mess with the big guns' timeslots). Let's hope he can be tamed: a wider audience deserve to see much more of this front-running talent.