Class is firmly back in session. London’s fashion pack descended upon Central Saint Martins for the first physical MA show since February 2020. You have to applaud these students. Two years of disrupted teaching, cancelled work placements and designing on the bedroom floor, and the 32 graduating designers were as promising and inspiring as ever. These are the talents who will shape the industry of tomorrow.
Primary-coloured chairs stacked into sculptures made the show’s set, playing host to a riotous display of all genders, sexualities, ethnicities and body types. Ed Mendoza, the first winner of this year’s L’Oreal Professional Prize, proved to be a standout. The Afro-Latinx designer was unashamedly colourful in his approach, bulldozing textures and wacky graphics in a series of explosive looks worn by models of all different sizes. His fellow winner, Jessan Macatangay, crafted sci-fi sporty micro frocks and leotards with abstract shapes that protruded from the fabric.
Elsewhere, James Walsh turned miscellaneous objects into crampy fashions, be it an aeroplane mini dress with an automatic propeller or a chihuahua toy baguette bag, and Charlie Constantinou made puffer fabric look like melting lava. The elevated men’s staples of Aaron Esh looked instantly shoppable, walking alongside the torn-up party garb of Shakila Thebe and the queered couture of Joe Pearson’s boys, with elegant bundles of fabric covering his models’ bits and bobs in all the right places.
A name to keep an eye on is Kazna Asker, who was the first designer to have a hijabi collection featured in the MA CSM show. She fashioned traditional dress out of sportswear fabrics, laden in brash graphics which speak directly to the young, inner-city Muslims who wear trainers and tracksuits with their chadors and kaftans.
The CSM MA show is always astounding, but this year’s showcase felt particularly brilliant. With these designers at the forefront, fashion’s future looks bright.
Photography courtesy of Central Saint Martins.