LFW AW10 report: Michael van der Ham - Fashion East

21 February 2010

Fashion East is one of the shows that excites us the most. New talent on a shoe string budget proving that London still has the best in new starts. It was a show that ranged from the brilliantly bonkers to the beautiful.

Opening was Nasir Mazhar. A hat designer who has dressed the heads of Madonna and Lady Gaga. We were expecting over-the-top eccentric top-alls, but what we got was something so much more commercial. Exaggerated turbans that wrapped half a metre above the models' heads and angular baseball caps - that would have felt as natural on your head as they did on the runway. But he still managed some popstress-friendly numbers - '90s-Camden-pink-hair high hats and black suede habits. Entertaining, perhaps, but whether it should be on the catwalk is another question.

Next up was Heikki Salonen, who brought a very simple sense of dressing to the catwalk. Using a mainly black and grey palette, Heikki stuck to very sellable pieces that should be swinging in a showroom, rather than facing an audience. We loved the padded baseball jackets, the velvet Chelsea boots and twisted chunky knits, but knowing that attention to detail is important to this designer, we would have appreciated seeing individual bits in close contact, rather than stomping past on a catwalk.

Finally, they saved the best till last (in our opinion), with Michael van der Ham. in his second Fashion East season (alongside Heikki), Michael has pushed well beyond second season ideas. Yes he still bases them on Andy Warhol dresses of the '70s, but they were so modern in terms of colour, shape and texture that they looked like something totally new. Sponsored by Liberty Print, there were many of their recognisable fabrics, but all appeared in a subtle style. Mohair, silk, organza and chiffon were collaged together to create dresses that floated along the catwalk. Using knit for the first time in separates, it was easy to see Michael creating head-to-toe looks that weren't only for the red carpet. But it was his final dress that had the audience in awe. Full length, navy silk, with inserts of black chiffon, topped by alternate fabric panels and decorated with huge (and old-fashioned) Swarovski crystals, apparently had top fashion editors requesting it back-stage.

Michael van der Ham is going far, and we can't wait to follow him.

- Kay Barron


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