The Central Saint Martins MA show is a good benchmark by which to judge the state of fashion today; who’s in, who’s out, what’s setting the pace, which brands are must-haves amongst the youthful pack. Minimalism is over, if today’s show is anything to go by. The Gucci effect has penetrated the CSM classrooms - sure, students always err on the side of maximalism, but a few years back, when Louise Wilson helmed the course, stark tunics and muted hues were regular features on the runway. Today they’ve been replaced with several collections full of eighties brights - some more successful than others - and kitsch, girly details. Also visible was the influence of the current London pack - Simone Rocha, Molly Goddard, Craig Green and the like. In fact, several of the menswear collections looked like auditions for a job with the latter.
So who are the new names to know? Well, the winners of the L’Oreal Professional Creative Award were Textiles and Fashion student Stefan Cooke, whose twisted take on the Hervé Léger bandage dress for men raised smiles, and Gabriele Skucas, a knitwear student whose handmade pieces, all a slight variation on the same neutral blouse and black kilt, staked a claim for slow fashion in the pacy climate students are graduating into. The latter would do well to eschew fashion week from now on and set up a small bespoke-focused business where the sense of intimacy and craft she impressed with today could grow and be appreciated. The former, will no doubt see the ‘jeans’ he printed on elastic widely shot. His sense of humour peaked sufficient interest to ensure a spotlight for the next few seasons should he choose to set up on his own. But really it was his make and skill that impressed most - this was a smart idea, a clever trick, well executed. The visual punch didn’t overpower the craft. One to watch.
There were other winners too, even if they weren’t formally crowned. Tom Guy’s historical-looking gowns - think Marie Antoinette meets Meadham Kirchhoff - drew admiring nods from attendees. He's dreaming of a job with Gucci or Dior, especially now Maria Grazia Chiuri has ushered in a mood of primness, poise and romance, but given that he plastered his name in glittering letters all over his garments, one senses he has different aspirations than working behind-the-scenes. Menswear student Robert Wallace’s collection also felt on point, given that the suit is back in fashion amongst the current provocateurs - Demna Gvasalia, Gosha Rubchinskiy and co. His musings on tailoring impressed. Finally, Joshua Beaty disgusted and delighted in equal measure with his witty, warped, witchy looks. He’d got the closing slot, and brought up the rear quite literally by embroidering puckering anuses on the back of his dresses. Another of his dresses featured a sleeve that morphed into a glove-cum-oven mitt, it was a good emblem for summing up a show that played on traditions of feminine dress by mixing them with sexual, punkish aspects. The final look featured a full arse embroidery - a bum note? Not quite. It was great. Naughty, silly, awkward, just as graduate fashion should be.