It was down the rabbit hole and onto the Mad Hatter’s tea party at Michael van der Ham’s spring/summer 2013 show. In what best can be described as “Louis Carroll meets Juan Miro,” the collection featured a myriad of eccentric abstract prints in the vein of the Catalan artist on prim, dainty collared tea dresses, knee-length skirts, and nipped-waist blouses. The Alice reference resonated even more through the white headbands that each model wore atop pristinely ordered straight hair, hinting at a fixation to blur the boundary between childhood innocence and refined femininity.
Rendered in the brand’s signature cut and paste collage technique, this season the result was even more sophisticated; his previously looser dresses are sharpened into sleeker tailored pieces, though he could certainly excel even more in that direction in coming seasons. While some blouses and bustiers seemed to create volume in the wrong places, others created beautifully unusual shapes that were both striking and immediately flattering.
One could see Miro’s brushstroke boldness in van der Ham’s attitude towards this season’s prints and fabrics: they’ve never been louder and more exaggerated but also never been better layered to create a fluid, aesthetically coherent, and deliciously girly looks. Combined with van der Ham’s fanciful embellishments in the form of sequined sprawls, that crept up shirts and asymmetric skirts half-covered with embroidered lace overlays, the collection was a colorful parade of curiosities, reigned in a little for the discerning urban crowd that populates London.
Indeed, the Michael van der Ham girl, contrary to her seemingly naïve cuteness, has grown, become more refined and experienced, but still playful and curious enough to fall down the rabbit hole… We’d be mad not to join her (tea) party.
- Maria Dimitrova