The master creative board at Michael van der Ham's studio. Spot the Louboutin collab?
To get to Michael van der Ham's studio, you have to go to deepest Hackney. He'll meet you at the 10 foot high chain link gate to the Victorian factory complex that houses his studio. It's not pretty. But pick your way over the cracked concrete, get inside his space, and ahhh. Spring is in the air. Though when I say this, he shivers, "oh, you don't want to be here when it is cold."
Spring really is in the air here. I visit a few days before the show (which took place yesterday) and in his quiet way he seems excited with the changes he is making to the collection. After focusing on his unique patchworked dresses for his first few seasons, he tells me he's moving it on. "I'm introducing layering pieces - silk printed T-shirts, shirts and trousers. I want a more laid back feeling. Its still very much about the fabrics and textures, but with more ease."
He shows me the clothes. I spy a silk T-shirt printed in a beautiful swirl of colour. Then he waggles a pair of pink and gold Lurex shot floral brocade trousers in front of me. I get excited. I'm a trouser girl - love a good trouser. Here they are on the runway. I like how this is so easy to wear, good old fashioned American sportswear (not actual sports clothing, but what the Americans term casual) and yet is so dressed up. In fact most of the shows have been about these easy pieces, but fashioned-up with wonderful prints, textures and fabrications.
Mmmm.. my favourite look from yesterdays show
Michael found inspiration for his new laid back mood in the work of American documentary photographer Joseph Szabo, who is best known for his reportage snapshots of teenagers.
I really get why Michael has chosen Szabo's work to inform his mood. As a designer he admits he is obsessed with texture and print, so having photographic work this visceral to pull his out of that seems to have worked. Indeed when I ask him what inspires the prints, he is his most talkative. "I've been looking at confetti, abstract brush strokes, feathers and lots of geometrics."
My favourite van der Ham looks
Michael's patchwork bags for the runway show
Michael's fabric board
All in all, this collection will mean we will be seeing a lot more of his clothes in stores. Which is what he wants, and after seeing the collection I'm counting the days until those pink and gold floral brocade trousers can be mine.
Images: Fashion Editor at Large and catwalking.com