A huge crowd gathered for Corrie Nielsen’s show at Somerset House this afternoon, but all cacophony was immediately quelled by the tranquil sound of birdsong as the first model glided onto the catwalk.
Nielsen’s vision for Spring Summer 2013 was a Victorian glasshouse: watery dappled colours and glistening dip-dyed organza brought an air of serenity to the stricture of the American’s tailoring.
All her stalwart elements were there: the prominent panniers, the stiff panels, the acres and acres of billowing fabric. More is more when it comes to the outsize aesthetic of the 2010 Fashion Fringe winner: stiff shoulders balloon into huge leg o-mutton sleeves, collars mushroom into massive Pierrot ruffs and enormous air-filled bows decorate the backs of silk twill jackets.
Curioser and curioser, the tailoring became ever more extreme as the collection unfolded; a weird black box of a dress testing the limits of functionality midway through the show. But the stiff elements and the fantastical panels made a bit more sense with the ballgowns towards the end - here the drama of Nielsen reaches its logical conclusion. The red carpet at Cannes, perhaps, would be a more fitting setting for the spectacle of her clothing.
As a designer Nielsen is something of a method actor: for this collection she spent countless hours researching the scientific make-up of plants at the Royal Botanical Kew gardens.
But once those seeds were planted, rare and strange and utterly fantastical is how her garden grows.