It's been almost exactly three full years since Rei Kawakubo unleashed her primary-coloured, two-dimensional, nursery-shaped AW12 collection, responding to the way the Internet was reshaping real experiences into virtual flatness — and daring the world (and the rest of fashion) to prove her wrong.
Fast forwarding to 2015, the reality is far less simple. All through London Fashion Week, there's been an intense emphasis on technique and texture, as brands jostle to display their intricate, radically crafted surfaces. Michael van der Ham was on board this particular bandwagon before Kawakubo fired her warning salvo, though. And over the seasons he's stayed true to his gentle collaged forms and multilayered fabrications whilst the rest of the schedule came round to his way of thinking.
Today's outing was as consistent as ever, opening with the scrap-draped, dreamy frocks that have become the designer's most recognisable signature. But it was when he shifted up the contrast levels — slicing chiffon through tweed, embellishing jacquards with metal and glass, layering cable knits with silk, wrapping sophisticated wool coats in planes of appliquéd organza — that the collection erupted into life. Faded nudes and blues collided with saturated purples and blacks, giving van der Ham's aesthetic a newly confrontational edge. Kawakubo's flat world? Far from it. But the notched-up drama of the show's intricate surfaces were an eloquent acknowledgement of the fact that clothes these days need to operate successfully on screen, just as much as they do in real life.