In a warehouse in the east end, guests are served tea upon arrival as they take their seats across the grassy path that is the catwalk. It’s cold but there is a palpable buzz of curiosity; ever since Thomas Tait’s graduation from Central Saint Martins as the youngest designer to come out of the esteemed MA Fashion course, he has earned a front-running position of a one-to-watch. His presentation (though it deserves to be called a collection), proved loud and clear why, even when squished between big name on-schedule shows, Tait is unstoppably headed towards the path of global recognition.
Sharply deviating from London fashion’s love affair with prints and embellishment, Tait’s clothes are stripped down to the minimum, exuding an overarching sense of solidity and stability in his choice of shapes, volume and proportions. The sculpted leathers, high block-heeled boots, workman gloves, and tightly-fixed jockey caps evoked a tough, outdoors-loving girl, ready to clean up the stables after an afternoon of horseracing. That hardness, however, was juxtaposed with the sensual appeal of Tait’s play with textures, from the easy jersey blouson shirts to the velvet-padded t-shirts, tulip-shaped trousers, and the super sleek yellow leather jeans that fit the model like a glove. Tait seems to be a master in pattern-cutting and draping, with an apparent consideration for what it feels like to be inside his clothes. The absolute climax came with the long, ankle-skimming overcoats: his signature item and best-seller in the past – and, if I may prophesy, the future.
Tait’s realistic approach and distilled palette of ‘common’ colours, as he called them, featuring teal, black, navy, ochre, and moss green, resulted in sporty, industrial-inspired pieces that would live long in an urban girl’s closet. The young designer’s ability to make classic clothes unique through meticulously mechanical detailing and to offer reliable, thoroughly ready to wear pieces, shoot him way ahead of the half thought-through conceptual designs that proliferate the catwalks of recent design graduates. Aptly concluded with Inspector Gadget’s theme tune, the collection laid the foundation for a definite new love affair with Tait’s aesthetic, a lasting one we should all hope.