So here are some more of my personal favourites…
Michael Van Der Ham was set for success from the minute he debuted his now-signature collaged evening-wear collection at the Central St Martins MA graduate show last february. Michael’s first-ever collection won him the L’Oreal Professional Award and marked out the dutch born designer as a serious fashion contender. Since then Van Der Ham has gone from strength to strength, picking up the Vertice Award last summer, showing with the innovative Fashion East project at London Fashion Week for the past 2 seasons and really beginning to make a name for himself on the international fashion scene.
Michael’s signature pieces incorporate shapes from different decades in fashion, using clashing colours, textures and prints to enhance the overall collage effect.
The best thing about Van Der Ham’s designs is the fact that you could quite happily spend hours on end looking at his collection. Such is the originality and variety of each individual piece, you would never get bored. This is something people seem to say willy-nilly especially about young designers, but Michaels’ designs are totally unique. His style is different to that of any of the other exciting new brands out there, and that has no doubt played a large part in the success of his collections. The combination of different colours and textures he uses really makes his pieces stand out, but unlike other designers whose collections are equally extravagant, I could actually imagine someone (other than the fabulous Daphne Guinness who can pull off pretty much anything) WEARING one of his dresses.
The detailing, exquisite cut and beautiful composition of each piece makes it almost on par with the haute couture collections. Yet there’s something about Van Der Ham’s collection that makes me think more of young, cool Londoners than of ageing Grande Dames being fitted in the Parisian salons. It feels effortlessly thrown together, nonchalant and modern. And ok, so you wouldn’t exactly pop one on for a trip to the shops, but Van Der Ham’s dresses manage to virtually be works of art AND appear wearable(ish) at the same time… No mean feat if you ask me.
Laura Mackness is yet ANOTHER product of the St Martins MA fashion course who’s gone on to fast become a rising star on the London fashion scene. Laura’s graduate collection not only won her critical acclaim but also caught the eye of Swedish retailer Weekday who invited her to work on a mens and womenswear collaboration for spring/summer 2010. Mackness’s designs combine humour and minimalist style, featurind her trademark hand-drawn designs which include circular boobs, trompe-l’oeil hands on hips and eyelash knees.
Laura’s designs could not be more different from Michael Van Der Ham’s vintage-textile-inspired collection, but I think that they’re just as original and interesting. That is the beauty of fashion, it can be so many different things. Ornately decorated and delicate or fun, light-hearted and casual. Designer’s offer up all these different creations from which we can just take our pick (at least of the trends they inspire, sadly the actual catwalk pieces are out of reach for most of us). Now I’m a pretty big fan of minimalism in any shape or form, but it is more the humour of Laura Mackness’s collection that I’ve really fallen for. No matter how committed a fashion devotee you are (and I would class myself among the most committed) it is undeniably an industry that has been known to take it’s self just the teensiest bit too seriously at times. But no one could see Laura’s style and accuse her of being remotely pretentious. She’s young, cool, talented and not afraid to have a bit of fun with her designs and that’s probably why I, and the rest of the fashion world, can’t get enough of her quirky style.
Now this may surprise you but Heikki Salonen is actually NOT a St Martins graduate. Shocking I know, but anyway, I digress. The Finnish-born designer was clearly set to be a B-I-G name in the world of fashion after uber-stylish Parisian boutique Maria Luisa bought up his graduate collection. Add to this the fact that before starting his own label, Heikki worked as assistant designer at Erdem and it is no wonder that over the past few seasons he has been a serious one-to-watch.
For the past two seasons, Heikki has shown as a part of the Fashion East catwalk and you only have to take a look at his designs to see why Lulu Kennedy is a fan. His boyish, Scandinavian-inspired womenswear collections have an androgynous edginess to them. Their effortless wearability, unexpected detailing, such as the goth-inspired shredded and decaying jeans featured in his fall/winter 2010 collection, and total versatility puts Heikki’s rather casual pieces at the other end of the spectrum to Michael Van Der Ham’s evening wear.
According to the designer, his collection is a ‘fusion of streetwear and couture’ which I assume means that here we have some seriously well-made everyday attire. I predict that Heikki Salonen is poised to become the go-to label for off-duty models and so-cool-it-hurts East London fashionistas. I could be totally wrong and his second collection will be a fest of silks, organzas and cocktail dresses that go on to grace the society section of Tatler magazine rather than the pages of I-D or Dazed and Confused… but somehow I doubt that.
Love Ella. X