The Fashion East Collective
Mimi Wade: Old Hollywood Meets Young London
Mimi Wade, 25, a Central Saint Martins graduate in her third season with Fashion East, played with an undone version of Hollywood glamour, where Dial 'M' For Murder MIMI is embroidered on a skirt, alongside a stitched-on dragon and a lace-trimmed hem. Appliquéd hearts, pie-crust necklines and visible frilly underthings did not look girly – more a statement from a strong and sexually aware woman who can make a feather boa look hardcore.
A Sai Ta: A Couture-esque Mash-Up
A Sai Ta, 29, a British designer of Asian origin, has already won an award for his modern embroidery techniques and is another Central Saint Martins graduate. He made the most of the runway space at London's Tate Modern museum. Like his fellow designers, he focuses on ‘anti-perfectionism’. The result is a sense that young designers – almost all trained at Central Saint Martins – are creating a new and, of course different, version of John Galliano's make-do madness.
Matty Bovan: Back To The Future
Matty Bovan, 26, was inspired by pagan folklore – hence perhaps the miniature papier-mâché matchstick huts of a small village were created as a backdrop. As with all the Fashion East performers, diversity in models, ethnicity and natural shape was paramount. The designer also played with strong colour and a tribal vibe. His choice of bold colours, like mixes of pink and orange, gave a suggestion of far-flung places as seen in a sci-fi movie. And the patterns were created with such energy and verve that the mini show might have been a distant mediaeval parade – but transferred to London's melting pot of cultures.
Huishan Zhang: A New Sophistication
An historic British building and a sophisticated collection of decorative designs from lace to pearls: Huishan Zhang, 34, has come a long way since the Chinese national started showing his clothes in London. For his first runway collection, he focused on the intricate embellishments done in China, but also included diagonal patterns, tunic dresses and full midi skirts – all expanding the designer's range from evening wear. That category had also moved fast forward from lacy dresses to more casual designs like a pleated tunic and trousers.
There was nothing to suggest that Huishan Zhang is changing the face of fashion, but to create appealing modern clothes with intricate detail is already an achievement.
Alice Archer: Flower Power
Embroidery, bold but decorative, is the calling card of Alice Archer, 30, who gives craft work a sophisticated edge. The conventional big, flat roses that were stitched into the skirt of her own dress competed with a tailored coat, where hollyhocks climbed up the front panels or bright blooms decorated a satin robe.
New this season was a special technique of using the embroidery so it appeared to be washed out – a smart idea at a time when the concept of fading beauty has a poignancy and grace.
Michael Halpern: Disco Couture
Quick! Reach for the sunglasses! Michael Halpern, 29, is bringing on the bling. With the showmanship of a player in Tinsel Town, a background in his native New York and a training at Central Saint Martins, the designer sent out a glitter gulch of made-in-England sparkle. The vivid colours and the slightly undone or unfinished feel suggested party clothes with an edge. And a 1970s vibe added a touch of perversity to what otherwise might have been seen as just another party parade.