It says everything about Michael van der Ham’s spring summer 2013 collection that Samantha Cameron chose one of his hot-off-the-catwalk dresses to wear for her full day out at London Fashion Week. Well, almost everything.
This was a show that marked a polished step forward for the designer. His signature collaged approach was in evidence, but in a more ladylike form than we’ve seen before. Alice band-wearing levels of ladylike, in fact.
He launched into the collection with a series of neat little dresses fusing splashy, Joan Miro-inspired florals and demure shapes (tiny collars, sheer cap sleeves). The looks grew more deconstructed, clashy and East London as the collection moved on.
‘I wanted to divide the collection into three different sections,’ he told us backstage after the show. ‘There’s the print section, then the more multi-textured version... and then it goes into the embroidered section.’ So prints transitioned to hand-painted and beaded looks, then on to power pastel chiffons (peach, lilac, mint) shot through with veins of silver sequins.
There were some exceptional fabrics along the way. Van der Ham talked up his hand-painted devores and ‘hairy jacquards’, which featured in Cameron’s blue dress. These brought a couture stiffness to skirts, particularly the ones that looked like a rectangular piece of fabric folded around the body—very kilt-like, an emerging LFW theme. What does it all mean, Michael?
‘I was just playing with the layers. It wasn’t like a specific reference; we just do fittings almost every other day and try things, see what works,' the ever-modest designer said, before granting himself a small measure of credit. 'It’s very three-dimensional.’ And so much more.