'When the props, crutches and conveniences of modern life have been stripped away, tribal peoples show is that humanity is still part of nature.' This is the quote Marios Schwab chose to print at the end of his show notes for his latest collection. It belongs to Joanna Eede and is taken by National Geographic. That Schwab would choose a quote from an author of environmental books on the Amazon's lost tribes or that the National Geographic would be his kind of light reading should come as no surprise to anyone that's followed his career from the body-con mania that he helped spark to today. Schwab is a serious thinker and for SS13 he's thinking back to nature, back to basics.
If, for some, that spark has been flickering dangerously lately this collection should put them at ease. Truth be told, while other London designers have forcefully established their identities with their last few collections, Schwab has appeared to be wavering. But if he just needed some more time, it was time well spent. The tribal Edward S. Curtis image on the invite was a hint. The opening music, a crescendo right out of Wolfgang Petersen's Troy was another and out walked the Schwab tribe, all clad in power leather, fringed and pleated, from their busts to their feet. If this sounds costumey, it wasn't and that's all down to Schwab's deft hand.
Dresses featured long black leather fringing over a contrasting slip, often berry red, and were teamed either with flat sandals (fringed, of course) made by Ancient Greek Sandals, or high heels. Some were held tight by Alaia-esque corset belts, harnessing the body in a very Schwab way (no other designer is so fascinated by the female form) whereas others featured sheer slits snaking around the hips, revealing some skin. Those Amazonians sure knew how to seduce!
A tan woven leather skirt looked net-like and others were pleated with such ease they felt modern, especially when teamed with knitted sweaters. That's exactly how someone would wear those right now, what with all the cool jumpers around. Schwab's knitwear had a honeycomb pattern to them, that appeared again on nude chiffon gowns, encrusted with the prerequisite Swarovski crystals and made for an Amazonian Queen or, failing that, the red carpet - a new discovery for the designer who's seen his bejewelled dresses on a few stars and starlets lately. 'The humble bee works resourcefully to produce the beautiful and complex honeycomb structure', said his notes and yes, it seems that this will be a bumper season for this one.