London’s Central Saint Martin’s is a storied design institution known for producing talented fashion designers from the late Alexander McQueen to Stella McCartney, John Galliano, Christopher Kane, Kim Jones, Hussein Chalayan and Katharine Hamnett. The school’s prestigious MA fashion program draws industry-wide attention every year, operating as a soothsayer for future talents and certain successes.
This year’s graduating class particularly stood out by adhering to a strikingly modern and simple approach rather than competing for outlandish attention. Although the designs were a marked shift from the daring and forward thinking work expected from the school—leaving some people disappointed—they signaled a strong cultural break from the mayhem of this past decade.
Tze Goh, a Singapore-born graduate of the class, for instance, produced a pristine, all-white womenswear collection illustrative of this significant shift. “My designs are part of their time. When things were a bit more over the top and gloomy, I designed along those lines. But when I chose white, it was a clean slate and wiped the past away,” he explained.
This futuristic outlook consisted of foam materials fused with jersey that used techniques more akin to sculptors than tailors. The pieces looked as if they were skillfully molded rather than sewn, a rare and difficult skill that Goh executed effectively. The collection included highlights such as a cape folded at the neck without a drawstring, a coat with twisting lapels and a simple shift dress that created beautifully random undulations when in motion.
As far as Goh is concerned, the entire past decade was retro. And with no singular aesthetic attributable to the noughties—as was the case with, say, Paco Rabanne in the ’60s or Thierry Mugler in the ’80s—it’s easy to see his point. The decade opened with optimism in clean and edgy looks, but September 11 changed the fashion world as much as everything else. “When [9/11] happened, people got scared and became distressed, so they fantasized,” observes Goh. Fashion, in turn, became more about grappling with tumultuous times by conflating familiar archetypes than with looking forward to a fresh horizon.
We may already be a decade into the 2000s, but Goh insists that “now there’s a sense of the new millennium actually beginning.” If his breakout collection—and those of his classmates—is to serve as any kind of indication of this optimistic shift, it seems there’s a bright new future ahead after all.
For more information on Tze Goh, you can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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