London Fashion Week S/S 2012 Catwalk Review: Michael Van Der Ham

Michael Van Der Ham, the boy who's ever-obsessed with collaging, has taken a strategic turn in his design ethic, much to the fashion world's approval. And mine. I'll take it all, please. Held at the Topshop Venue on Monday 19th September.

Written by Georgia Takacs

Michael Van Der Ham by Joe Turvey
Michael van der Ham S/S 2012 by Joe Turvey

You can tell that Michael has fun with his designs; much like, say, fellow Newgen designers Louise Gray and Meadham Kirchhoff. He seems to have a less disciplined and somewhat more carefree vibe that runs through his work and for his Spring/Summer 2012 collection this revealed itself in playful prints that darted from block colour to illustrative lines to teeny-tiny florals. It was gorgeous! And landed itself firmly in my LFW top three.

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Anna Dello Russo, posing as soon as she spotted Amelia‘s camera.

He had the front row that London designers dream of – Alexandra Schulman, Hilary Alexander, Anna Dello Russo (who looked ah-mazing in Prada), good ol’ Harold Tillman and many fashion editors, including ELLE UK fashion director Anne-Marie Curtis (many wouldn’t recognise the ELLE UK team, but I’m a little obsessed. I went into still shock when Rebecca Lowthorpe passed me at Erdem last season; best fashion writer ever). And all without a popstar poser in sight! Okay, I know that it may be fun and exciting to have Marina Diamond or Paloma Faith sit their buttocks on your front row, but there must be something about having this professional fash pack that makes your work feel truly respected.

Harold Tillman BFC at Michael Van Der Ham S/S 2012 - by Georgia Takacs
Harold Tillman, Chairman of the British Fashion Council. Photograph by Georgia Takacs.

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It’s been a treat to follow Michael’s journey since his initial sponsorship by BFC Newgen (OH those Newgen designers!) and his collage creations have always been seen as, well, a little bit mad (see Spring/Summer 2011). And his recent collaboration with equally mad Bjork (I love her) on her Biophilia project is clear patchwork evidence of this. Naturally, however, I have often found his designs so playful and daring that they’re often un-wearable. But with this collection? I wanted it all. And so, I imagine, did every other woman in the room. A bold statement, yes. But with a perfectly balanced Spring/Summer colour scheme, casual-luxe dressmaking and just the right amount of garish glamour, Michael was almost spot on.

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Michael Van Der Ham 2 by Nicola Ellen
Michael van der Ham S/S 2012 by Nicola Ellen

The collection’s appeal all lay in the casual, feminine dresses and pencil trouser/shirt combo that was all oh-so-embellished with colour and print upon a subtle mix of matte, jersey and sheer textures. That extra-long sentence made it all seem too much, I know. But there was absolutely nothing try-hard about this collection. There was no black floor-skimming dress in the finale (it’s done much too much) or crazed props sticking out of heads or hanging off models. It was straight-forward, good womenswear that still remained surprising and unpredictable as each look was revealed.

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And not forgetting the accessories, which were the type that, rather than giving a brief appreciative nod, were all-round oggleworthy; you just wanted to stare at them and look in closer at their bright, ornate detail. These bold, chunky-but-delicate pieces acted as an extension of the mismatched intricate print, as did the sequined colourful clutches (some of which had the overdone Chanel-esque chain straps that I’m no longer a fan of) which were carried by many of the models.

Michael Van Der Ham by Nicola Ellen
Michael van der Ham S/S 2012 by Nicola Ellen

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Michael Van Der Ham S/S 2012 - by Georgia Takacs
Photograph by Georgia Takacs. All other photography by Amelia Gregory.

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Photography by Amelia Gregory.

Since his initial sponsorship from BFC’s Newgen, Michael van der Ham has grown up in leaps and bounds. There was a hype around him this season that has evolved from the previous ‘Keep an eye on him! He’s up-and-coming!’ to the sort that screams ‘I’m an established designer, showing my work at London Fashion Week; respect.’ And we do, Michael. We do.

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One Response to “London Fashion Week S/S 2012 Catwalk Review: Michael Van Der Ham”

  1. Love the collection!! Great work Amelia as always :) x

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