I think everyone has forgotten that it was actually Cheryl Cole’s championing of Koma through her 2009 X Factor wardrobe choices that rocketed his name to superstardom. Of course the cooler kids knew him as the winner of the Vauxhall Fashion Scout’s merit award that year as well as the Harrods Design Award, but it was Chezza (or should I say her stylist?) who really bought his first collection to the masses.
This close association did have the potential to pigeonhole him as a maker of sexy dresses for famous women but Koma has fought through the cliches and emerged safely out the other side. Just look at him go – a collaboration with Topshop, winner of the BFC Newgen catwalk sponsorship last season and still firmly a member of the prestigious CSM graduates gang along with Kane, Pugh and Kantrantzou.
So, with all this in mind I was fascinated to see what someone with such a strong signature style would pull out of the bag next. Last season was a departure from his heavily embellished body cons but I wasn’t a huge fan of the white interspersed with sheer he relied on so heavily – I wanted something a little more interesting. And I wasn’t disappointed. I felt a little like Koma had reversed his aesthetic, covering areas of the body he would normally show and exposing unexpected areas; a technique that actually proved far more dramatic than his past collections.
A perfect example was a long cream dress with full length sleeves and a high neck covering the whole body except for where the shoulders and top of the back had been cut out. In a similar vein was a black shirt with a full back but just a bra shape, buttons and a collar remaining at the front with the rest played out in sheer. It was demure with an edge and Koma had captured it perfectly.
He stuck with lengths at or below the knee, often extending the length of a skirt with a few inches of sheer fabric and veiling arms in the same way. Necks were consistently high or covered by stiff, stand-up collars. These collars were paired with everything and most were silvery metallic, giving them the pleasingly homemade look of folded card covered in glitter; one of my favourite little details.
There was a little bit of the David we know and love in the form of a recurring metal eyelet which punched through clothes to reveal bright colours underneath, held up pony tails and formed borders on skirts. This motif was used later in the form of mirrored shapes and prints rather like large shards of glass cascading down the front of the final coats and dresses of the show.
My favourite detail was the ‘half peplum’, a feature I think we’ll be seeing a lot of if fashion week is anything to go by. Some peplums were attached just on the back of a jacket, rather like small, beautifully formed capes. Others decorated the back of a skirt like modern day bustles, or sometimes several miniature peplums created a half skirt shape, forming an interesting outline. Navy kept cropping up as did maroon and of course monochrome with the odd bit of cream thrown in.
So, it was all about the sheer, the stiff collars and the peplums at David Koma - yet another turn from yet another designer towards something more mature and ladylike this fashion week. There must be something in the air.