ports 1961 pays tribute to london’s creativity
Staged at Central Saint Martins and with students looking on, this collection was a tribute to craft.
Ports’ designer Natasa Cagalj studied at Central Saint Martins under the late, great Louise Wilson. So this show, staged at the college, was something of a homecoming for her and her design team – many of whom also studied at CSM. She’d even invited 100 current students of the school to look on. There was plenty in this assured and confident collection for them to find inspiration in.
It was a bright morning, and the atrium of the new(ish) building in Kings Cross was filled with beautiful mid-autumn sunshine. Fitting, as the collection Natasa presented was all about summer. The soundtrack opened with the gentle waft of waves on a shore, and the clothes shown were an inventive take on relaxed summer-wear -- which is a theme running through London Fashion Week at the moment, maybe a side effect of our just finished glorious summer of constant 30 degree days.
But it didn’t stray too far from what Natasa has been doing at Ports; inventive and practical takes on minimalism. Finding joy in colour and fabrics. Elevating the utilitarian into the expressive. There was plenty of gorgeous and relaxed tailoring on show, and a more general feeling of comfort and ease conveyed in drapey silhouettes, with drama added in dramatic fringes that swayed down the catwalk. One highlight was a series of gorgeous prints of clouds that immediately summoned the summer sky. It was all very breezy and assured and gorgeously wearable.
It would be too easy here to conclude with a reference with Phoebe Philo, the departed Céline designer, and the space she’s vacated. No designer can make luxurious, intelligent, minimalist womenswear now without people deciding they are staking a claim for the Philophiles. But the strength of this collection, and of Natasa’s four years at the helm of Ports, is that it feels honest, comfortable in itself.