Michael Van Der Ham, fledgling designer of London's Fashion East, is one of my favourite of the moment. Dutch born and a graduate of Central St Martins he already has internships at Alexander Mcqueen and Sophia Kokosalaki under his belt as well as two season's support from Fashion East and a L'Oreal design prize to his name. His designs are a quirky collage made from vintage look Liberty prints, sheer fabrics, flashes of colour, wool, femininity, cool and a pair of scissors. With a thrown together aesthetic he brings a refreshingly light-hearted approach to the runway.
Liberty prints are very much a la mode, perhaps because their heritage is a comfort in today's uncertain economic climate. However we have all seen the ditsy floral prints a thousand times before; by piecing them together with contrasting fabrics Van Der Ham flaunts Liberty in an updated and unique environment.
Van Der Ham's collections are on sale at Liberty, and attract a style-savvy clientelle looking for something a bit different. In his own words, the Van Der Ham woman is "someone who's not afraid to wear something a little more bold".
The mix of homely wool and luxe fabrics creates an alternative take on pretty, bringing it bang up to date and making his creations covetable for 2010. These are clothes for a modern woman who is not afraid of flaunting her femininity (gone are the days of straight forward power dressing where prettiness equaled weakness) but who wants to do so with attitude.
Below: Spring Summer 2010
The surprise of a spangly bra underneath the sheer top of this dress is the kind of detail that adds edge and modernity to the cut and paste, pretty vintage feel to Van Der Ham's designs.
It is the surprise of contrasted patterns, fabrics, shapes and lengths that makes these clothes so exciting.
The mismatch approach seems very relevant today when fashion is less about dusty rule books and more about having a good sartorial eye and a personal sense of style. Nowadays you show your fashion credentials by pulling together high street and designer, modern and vintage, hard and soft instead of sporting head to toe designer brands. Van Der Ham's style embodies this 21st century way of dressing.
With catwalk collections to swoon over and an approach to dress-making that is quirky and completely his own, Michael Van Der Ham is one to watch.