LONDON, United Kingdom — Earlier this year, we introduced the BoF community to Thomas Tait. A fresh graduate of the Central Saint Martins MA programme, Tait has had a busy few months. Since we first met him in May, he has been named a finalist for the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize, created an accessories collaboration with mega online fashion retailer ASOS, and on Saturday, showed for the first time at London Fashion Week in a hush hush off-schedule presentation held at the Wilkinson Gallery in East London.
There were only two rows for seated guests, but the overflow crowd didn't seem to mind. Squeezed onto single benches on either side of the runway were Elizabeth Saltzman of Vanity Fair, Bronwyn Cosgrave of the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize, Canadian High Commissioner James Wright and his wife Donna Thomson, and Kristina Blahnik, niece of Mr. Manolo himself and a new face for the Manolo Blahnik shoe empire. American editors who had caught wind of the Thomas Tait buzz were also there, including Whitney Vargas of Elle and Chioma Nnadi of Vogue.com. And of course, The Business of Fashion was there too.
So with a crowd of powerful fashion influentials, friends, supporters and classmates from Central St Martins in the house, and after waiting almost an hour for the show to begin, the audience craned their necks to catch a glimpse of Tait's debut collection. And what a debut it was.
The long, lean sculpted tailoring that came down the runway confirmed Thomas' creative potential and underlined his very focused point of view. The apron-like 'envelope' skirts were particularly noteworthy and after the show, many of those who were there, including the ones who have seen hundreds of new designers hit the market in years past, singled Thomas out as one to watch.
On our way out of the Emilio de la Morena show held the following day, Elizabeth Saltzman raved about the collection, saying that Tait's strict tailoring stood out in the London Fashion Week scene, which is dominated by colourful prints (Erdem, Mary Katrantzou), avant-garde silhouettes (Richard Nicoll, Hannah Marshall), and sometimes a kooky playfulness (Henry Holland, Louise Gray). At the Mary Katrantzou show on Sunday, Bronwyn Cosgrave was very pleased that the Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize jury had singled out Thomas so early on in his career. She is a strong believer in his talent. And at Antonio Berardi's show later that same day, Kristina Blahnik pulled me aside and said she too couldn't stop thinking about Tait's collection.
On a very limited budget, Thomas Tait assembled the courage and energy to put on his first show only months after his MA debut, and with a resourcefulness and professionalism rarely found amongst new fashion graduates. Sure, some of the fabrics and construction could have been better and there was the odd lighting hitch, but simply staging an event in such a careful, considered way is a very good sign.
In the London Fashion Week ecosystem at least, Tait speaks with a unique voice and has a pragmatic mindset that means we will surely be hearing from him in seasons to come. Today, we are pleased to exclusively share behind-the-scenes photos of fittings for Thomas' first collection, and will be watching him eagerly as his career progresses.
Imran Amed is Founder and Editor of The Business of Fashion