The Central Saint Martins MA 2015 showcase at London Fashion Week shook up all notions of fashion as ‘wearable art’. While the ‘art’ part is undeniable, ‘wearable’ is dubious, as the designs ranged from outlandishly oversized outerwear and materials resembling confetti explosions, to pieces covered in phallic looking appendages. Alma mater of industry giants like Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Gareth Pugh, Central Saint Martins promises a bright new generation of designers.
Starting with a bang, Matty Bovan opened the show with a whimsical collection packed with glitter streamers, large ornaments and chiffon covered wire frames, the last of which nostalgically resembled the fairy wings you wore as a child. Named as one of the two winners of the L’Oréal Professional Creative Award at the end of the night, Bovan’s creations were a five-year-old girl’s dream come true. Saying this, some of them were slightly haphazard, with his finale piece looking like giant, swinging dream-catchers draped over the model. Many of his designs had the potential to be beautifully sculpted, especially the ones with wing-like frames, but the disorderly structure made them seem chaotic.
The show had a distinct lack of structured collections, with a lot of designers preferring to drape oversized pieces, such as swing dresses, rather than going for a more tailored finish. Some models looked as though they had freshly laundered sheets hanging from them, while others appeared to be donning bin bags, with designs from Samuel Guidong Yang having an unfortunately uncanny resemblance to the household staple. The collection was, however, redeemed by a surprisingly stunning combination of quilted neon yellow trousers and loose blouses with minimalist silhouettes.
The second L’Oréal Professional Creative Award winner, Beth Postle, successfully paired bold, comic book-esque prints with well-draped shapes, giving the 2D pop art print some interesting dimensions.
Equally, the work put into the painstakingly structured and precisely sculpted collections of some designers was well rewarded; Hayley Gundmann’s intricate knitted work was unwieldy and impractical to wear, but would make any artist proud. But by far the most stunning display of architectural mastery was Krystyna Kozhoma’s collection, which saw the models wearing simple silhouettes so as not to distract from the giant, metal braided rope structures that were wrapped around them, transforming the models into living sculptures.
Some of these wearable sculptures strayed a little too far from ‘fashion’: Xinyuan Xu’s womenswear collection featured tentacle-like features that looked suspiciously phallic. Deliberate or not, the cactus-like attachments were not very integrated into the body of the piece.
Despite the tenuous wearability of the clothing, there were a few trend take-aways. While some features of the show, such as heels for men, stranded-on-a-desert-island rags and books strapped to crotches will (hopefully) never take off, interesting textures, particularly furry and fuzzy fabrics, seemed to be a running theme with all the designers. Yushan Li’s felt-like pieces were covered in sufficient lint to make anyone feel itchy, but similar fuzzy textures added interesting twists to classic silhouettes.
Some more mainstream trends included swing dresses and blouses of the same silhouette; a popular choice for a lot of the womenswear designers, and ankle-baring deep trouser leg turn-ups the equivalent for menswear.
Many of the menswear fashion students, following the trend of androgyny, put their male models in crop tops, some even baring midriffs. Designer-to-watch, Charles Jeffrey, built upon this intriguing trend, implementing a combination of extremely highwaisted trousers with stiff, starched collars. Geek revival may be the trend but his ill-fitting bottoms with shirts tucked in all the way is a little too geek to be chic.