By the third look in, I was very happy with this spring/summer collection from Michael van der Ham. For someone who is known for dresses with loose, chiffon tops, I was excited to see him take on slacks, a more fitted silhouette, and even a pair of jeans in the first five looks! What’s this, a casual  look from Michael van der Ham? That certainly was the way things looked at the beginning of the presentation. Sure, the gowns eventually made their way down the runway, but … wow, what a change!

This is definitely a dramatically different look than what van der Ham usually presents. This time last year, there wasn’t a pair of slacks to be found in the entire collection, and even if there had been they likely would have been silk or sateen, or something shiny. Slacks aren’t the only significant change here, either. Denim and leather jackets are a tremendous change of pace and the inclusion of an abundant amount of knitwear all serve to make this a significantly more casual, and practical, collection than we’ve ever seen from this designer. Even when he does finally get to skirts and dresses, the first several looks are quite practical for daywear rather than the more formal stylings we’re accustomed to seeing.

And we probably don’t even want to get started on the rounded sunglasses and platform shoes that had twitter buzzing from the very first look. Does this represent a significant change in attitude for the designer?

Eventually, we do see the tulle and chiffon and embroidered embellishments typical of van der Ham. Shining (literally) from these looks is the metallic bead work along precise cutouts in the fabrics. These are probably the most notable examples of Michael’s incredible attention to detail that, in reality, permeates the entire collection. Full-length pictures make it difficult to see some of the smaller and more impressive stitching taking place in these almost ordinary looking pieces. There’s nothing ordinary here at all. Michael’s strong sense of luxury comes through even with these very fitted, very lean and casual looks.

Still, one cannot help but feeling that we are seeing a very different Michael van der Ham this season. His color palette is more broad, his prints are less showy, and there is tremendously more practicality and wearability in this collection than any we’ve seen from this designer. Certainly, his trademark gowns aren’t going anywhere and those remain as beautiful as ever. This new casual side of Michael is a welcome sight, though, and one we certainly hope he continues.

Photo credit: Guillame Roujas

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