Saturday, 5 May 2012

Central Saint Martins

An art college and cultural centre in one, Central Saint Martins is internationally renowned for the creative energy of its students, staff and graduates.

In the middle: Derek Lawlor dress from 2009
MA Show 2011

Californian-born Shaun Samson started off in LA, then continued to put his best fashion-foot forward, emigrating to the UK in order to enrol at the prestigious Central Saint Martins. He's worked on a total of four collections for Jeremy Scott, which suggests to me - considering the disparity between his own work and Jeremy Scott's brash and barmy aesthetic - that he may be a new Kaiser Karl of sorts, a commercially astute designer capable of catering to several different needs.

Composed mainly of oversized silhouettes somehow enticing in their awkwardness, Samson's graduate collection which won this year's Fashion Collection of the Year (€15,000 and a fully-produced catwalk show) is perhaps best described as a fabric nerd's tartan-covered woolly wet-dream. Inspired by Latino street-culture, American work-wear and prison uniform, the collection was exclusively sponsored by Woolrich which makes for a happy, and somewhat more solvent Samson, but a slightly compromised collection which in some ways seems to have restricted the designer to variations on a theme: the luxe Neanderthal.

His technical innovation (he invented a needle punch felting technique which enables him to combine several dissimilar fabrics into a seemingly seamless gradation of materials) smacks of Prada, while his cuts and austere aesthetic (loud check prints aside) echo the masters of minimalism, Marni by Consuelo Castiglioni and Raf Simons.

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