I had a great seat at the Saint Laurent show in LA last night. Here’s three million pics or something

I’m in Los Angeles for the Saint Laurent show, held last night at the Palladium.

I’ve written about it for this Saturday’s FT, and the piece is already online.

I had a great spot at the show, right where the models turned on a diagonal after their walk towards the cameras.

The catwalk was a large rectangle filling the dance floor of the Palladium, across which they zigged and zagged.

I took about three million pics of this show that was ostensibly men’s, but which majored on women’s.

Here’s how it went.

The mens was sharp, severe and openly referential of Hedi Slimane’s original work at Yves Saint Laurent.

Because remember, he was in charge of menswear there in the late 90s, before it was bought by Gucci Group.

This was the look: neat jacket, strong shoulder, high skinny pant.


Women’s was a major statement.

This year sewed the 50th anniversary of Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, the first ready-to-wear line by a couturier which revolutionised fashion.

Slimane paid homage, and in doing so brought a fresh look to women’s at Saint Laurent.

Previously it had been short, hard, aggressive. Much skin was on show.

Here, flesh was covered.

I can’t remember any bare skin save for faces, hands, wrists from the entire show.

First women’s look: culottes.

Oh and by the way, that’s Rosie Huntington-Whiteley at the end of the row, and the mop head two along is Gaga.


Dresses went below the knee, covering the top of knee high boots.


I liked this dude.

I liked this dude too.

With his mismatching hair and beard.


This very lovely model was stuck at JFK with me on the flight out to LA last week.


For me the focus of the menswear was the coats.

So many that were so strong.

Like this one.


Some shimmer majorness in a collection of shimmer majorness.

Womenswear is so magpie.

It loves shiny shiny.

It’s things like this you notice when you don’t go to that many women’s shows.


Another great coat.


And another.

This one might be my favourite.


Another view.

It looks so good to wear.

Another view of another shimmer dress that I posted on Instagram last night (@thecharlieporter).

Do you see what I mean about flesh being covered?


Another amazing coat, this one a tweed trench.

View two.


The news on pants.

Frock coat.

I posted a load of pics on Instagram of the people there.

You don’t need to see them again do you?

Oh OK.

Sylvester Stallone talking to Pinault.

The back of Gaga.



 Can you just make this out?

Stallone pushing to the front to get backstage afterwards.


Zac Efron.


And the biggest superhuman there.

Joan Jett.



That’s been three million pics, right?

Electronic Superhighway, a new show on art and the internet at Whitechapel, is properly major

The Whitechapel Gallery in London is previewing it’s new show Electronic Superhighway, a survey of art and the internet.

It’s properly, properly major.

And does that necessary thing of presenting this work not as a possibility, but a reality.

A thread of work that goes back decades, even if it still feels unusual, subversive, radical and new.

The incredible Jacolby Satterwhite – Reifying Desire 6.


A whole wall of Celia Hempton’s Chatroulette series.

She goes on Chatroulette, and says to the young gentlemen who pop up that she’d like to paint their picture.

The results.


Sturtevant’s PacMan.

The amazing Jayson Musson and his Art Thoughtz.

Camille Henrot. Grosse Fatigue.

Go on. 

Spread that colour chart.

Spread it.

That’s right.


Gay Bombs by Zach Blas.

Cory Arcangel.

Snowbunny / Lakes.


An amazing amazing 40 minute long early Ryan Trecartin from 2004, that shows him in the process of tightening, cutting, hyper-speeding and releasing narrative.

The exhibition starts in 2016 and goes backwards.
Upstairs, Internet Dream by Nam June Paik from 1994.


So many screens, so much to watch.

A Lawrence Wiener video work.

Nam June Paik’s extraordinary TV show Good Morning Mr Orwell.

A live broadcast in 1984 between New York, West Germany, South Korea and Paris.

It featured Merce Cunningham dancing with his own image.

The Thompson Twins.


The show ends with early examples of technology in art.

Peter Sedgley’s circles displayed under changing colours.

The same work.

A few moments later.


Give yourself a good two hours.

At least.

Take a flask.

It’s so major.

It’s on 29 Jan – 15 May.


3 million years ago, I wrote on the impact of colour in your field of vision. A new case in point: Prada SS16

Approximately three million years ago, I wrote about the importance of colour in your field of vision.

It was to do with a new shirt I’d got by Shaun Samson, and how jolly it was for me to see orange as I went about my day to day (fascinatingly, that included making porridge and watering my pots).

As with all earth-shattering thoughts, it’s not really something I’ve considered for a while.

Then yesterday I got my new season Prada zip-up jacket.


Here’s how it looked on the catwalk twelve million years ago or whenever the SS16 shows were.




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(Photo nicked from voguerunway.com obvs)

It was one of those moments at the shows when I switched from critic to consumer.

Prada let me pre-order it.

This is me trying it on with the shorts from another look.

(I’ve got the matching trousers too though)


It arrived yesterday.

Within an hour, I was wearing it.

And what immediately struck was the impact on my field of vision.

As in, the lower half of my vision was dominated by a big band of lovely turquoise blue.

So often, our clothing is considered on how we look to others.

The message we send out, often without knowing.

Our smartness or dishevelled state.

Flirtation or smothered emotion.

Calm or agitated.

All well and good.

But rarely is it considered the effect of clothing on our own field of vision.

A more personal, private, individual experience of clothing.

What we see, even if we’re not focused on it.

Maybe this is why Breton stripes are so popular.

Because they provide such a strong frame to our field of vision.

Order and clarity added to the base of what we perceive.

I love blue.

I’ve considered moving to LA just to have permanent blue sky.

It was after seeing the John Baldessari show at the Tate a few years ago.

I kept going back to it, and couldn’t work out why.

Then it twigged.

It was the amount of blue in his work.

Because he took images in his home town.

Los Angeles.

An image from that show’s catalogue, shot in gloomy London light.

(The work is called Structure by Color Series: Imperfect Drawing Based on the Shape of a Cone (with Cylinders and Rods) from 1975)


But I’ve stayed here in London.

I’m wearing the Prada jacket now.

Having this stripe of turquoise blue in my lower field of vision is an absolute boon.

An attempt to recreate what I can see in my field of vision in this gloomy London light by laying my iPhone flat on my head.

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So there you go.

Colour in field of vision.

Something I’ll probably forget about for another three million years.

“They look at the cut of your suit before they listen to what you say”: a debrief on clothing in London Spy pt2

In episodes 2 and 3 of London Spy, clothing continues to be a key signifier of character: of status, of position inside, or outside, the establishment.

(I’ve already written about episode one here)

This post is beyond full of spoilers, so if you’ve not watched them yet, episode two is here, three is here.

Episode two, and from the off, clothing denotes whether someone is inside the establishment, or outside.

Danny, with the combination code lock taped to his chest, in a black leather hoodie, black hat.

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The man Danny thinks is following him: dark topcoat, scarf.

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When Danny gives him the slip, he steals a coat to add another layer of disguise.

Disguise of insubordination: a parka.

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Add on a baseball cap, head to an abandoned factory, take out a torch, and you’re as far from establishment as you can get.

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Trying to make a good impression for journalists.

But still in his jeans, with that belt.

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And the shirt itself is below par.

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But he can’t wait to get the tie off and the shirt untucked.

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It might seem like I’m pointing out the obvious, but I’ve never really considered before just how much clothing is used in narrative. How much it defines character.

His old alleged friend Scottie, about to reveal that he was once a spy.

In establishment dress.

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Danny, waiting to meet the parents of Alex/Alistair – attempted respectability.

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The alleged father of Alex/Alistair.

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The real father of Alex/Alistair.

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Danny prepares for dinner with Alex/Alistair’s parents at their castle, and considers a crisp white shirt.

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But goes instead for T-shirt.

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As he sits down at the midpoint of a long dining table, candles all over the surface, the mother and father at either end, the mother – played by Charlotte Rampling – says:

“Did you realise your provocation was infantile before or after you came through that door?”

She means his T-shirt.

The father says nothing.

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Danny sits down in his T-shirt with the cook, looks relaxed, seems himself, all to confirm that he is a downstairs rather than an upstairs.

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And then back in London he meets another creepy guy in a coat, suit, shirt and tie.

The uniform of creepiness.

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Hoodie and T-shirt.

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Once he’s released from questioning, he goes to meet the lowest of the low.

The entrance to their flat is at Perseverance Works off the Hackney Road.

You can tell by that Allen Jones sculpture.

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The lowest of the low is Mark Gatiss.

OK, a character called Rich played by Mark Gatiss.

His crystal meth pipe is perhaps the main indicator that he is the lowest of the low.

But he also wears jewellery.

A gold Rolex.

Two rings on one hand, another on the other.

Men’s jewellery = lowest of the low.

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In the entrance to his apartment are gold discs, which must have brought him great wealth.

His apartment is approx 3km long, stretching from the Hackney Road down to the Thames, what with his bathroom views of the Shard.

Note the extravagance of his robe.

The lowest of the low.

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When Danny goes to the clinic for an HIV test, his clothing could be that of Alex/Alistair.

A really nice grey slightly chunky crewneck sweater.

Presumably to send the message that all is OK, that there’ll be nothing wrong.

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And then when Scottie takes him on the hunt for information, again Danny is dressed up to ape establishment.

“Some of the people we need to speak to care very much about appearances,” says Scottie, as he takes out a suit for Danny.

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“They look at the cut of your suit before they listen to what you say. It’s not about wealth. It’s about a set of signals. They require a lifetime of study which is precisely the point.”

And so it is. Clothing counts for everything in London Spy.

Or at least, they want to make us think it counts.

For it could be that clothing – what we assume about someone’s character from what they wear – could be leading us down a garden path.

I hope it is.

More anon.

Clothing is playing such a key role in the assumption of character in London Spy: a debrief (pt1)

Three episodes into the BBC2 series London Spy, and clothing continues to play such a key role in character.

Or the assumption of character.

Because it’s such a male-dominated narrative, it’s a handy debrief on our present day assumptions about what clothing says about men, their personality and their background.

I should say that this will contain more spoilers than Danny’s spoiled dirty sheets that are currently being tested by the police for DNA, so if you haven’t watched any of it yet, click here for episode one on iPlayer.

First view of Danny is in the tunnel under Vauxhall station, at night, his clothes scuzzy.

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The camera shows us his dirty sneakers.

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He heads into a club, and thus his character is set before a word is spoken.

When words are spoken, they’re said into a flip phone.

Very Adele.

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First sight of Alex/Alistair is like an advert for an althleisure brand.

Neat greys, Nike sneakers.

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Notice the V-notch in his sweatshirt.

A symbol of wholesome athleticism.

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Obviously the best garment worn in the entire series ever is Danny’s disgusting work shirt he has to wear at the warehouse.

Desperate for his work shirt.

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Some more key signifiers of Danny’s character:

His grubby rucksack…

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His grubby flatmates.

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When Danny goes running to try and bump into Alex/Alistair again, his grubby old T-shirt has a presumably telling message.

In his hands is the water pouch Alex/Alistair gave him.

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Another old T-shirt, stripes of presumed innocence obviously subverted.

Smoking by the window.

Just so we get the message about when the old woman gets booted out of her flat for the spooky smoking invisible surveillance whoever-it-is.

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When Danny heads out early in the AM to try and meet Alex/Alistair one more time, it’s in an outfit of attempted respectability.

Peacoat, sweater, belted jeans.

Belt jazzy compared to Alex/Alistair’s grey.

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They go back to Edward’s flat.

Where clothing is used once again to define with precision.

While Alex/Alistair takes a shower, Danny opens the wardrobe.

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Ordered and dry cleaned grey suits.

He opens a draw.

Laundered and wrapped shirts.

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And then quite possibly the most terrifying sight in the whole series so far.

The organised sock and tie drawer.

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They head out for brunch.

What Alex/Alistair wears.

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Clothing is the key signifier that they are allegedly poles apart.

(I say allegedly because this is clearly a work involving twist and what has not yet been revealed – I’m accepting nothing at face value).

Our first encounter with Scottie, Danny’s old alleged friend.

A gay man with some role in the establishment who harks back to the post-war days of homosexual involvement in espionage.

Establishment overcoat, establishment shirt, establishment tie, establishment briefcase, establishment umbrella.

Again, clothing tells us everything before a word is spoken.

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A gorgeous seaside walk, where Alex/Alistair reveals more but not much about his life, and where they fall for each other.

Alex/Alistair in technical clothing, Danny not.

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Alex/Alistair in dark clean jeans and walking boots, Danny not.

You get the picture.

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Alex/Alistair and Danny’s last moment together.

Alex/Alistair, in crisp white shirt and trousers, turns the radio up to tell Danny that he needs to replace the computer battery.

As in, when I’m locked up dead in a trunk LOOK FOR THE COMPUTER BATTERY.

OK gratuitous arse shot.

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Danny never sees Alex/Alistair alive again.

When Danny seeks refuge with Scottie in his zhooshy house, Scottie is the picture of elder statesman innocence.

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One episode, two wardrobes.

Just like the crisp suits, this one that Danny opens in the loft above Alex/Alistair’s apartment sends out its own very clear message.

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Just like before, he opens two drawers.


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When we see him being interviewed by the police for the first time, he clothing – old plaid shirt, T-shirt – is that of a man out of his depth.

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Scottie drops him off, and asks Danny if he took anything from Alex/Alistair’s apartment.

Again, dressed as the establishment.

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Jesus we’ve only done episode one.

I’m not at all obsessed with London Spy.

Not at all.

More, imminently.

There are two ways to view the new Eames show at the Barbican: nerd-out, or as idealised model for living 

The Barbican is previewing its new exhibition today, The World of Charles and Ray Eames.

There’s two ways of viewing it: as a total design nerd-out, or an idealised model for living.

Let’s start with the nerd-out.

An experimental three-legged chair from 1945.

Another experiment with three legs from 1945, this time the other way round.

Pre-production DCM (Dining Chair Metal) from 1946.

LCW (Lounge Chair Wood) from 1946.

Experimental Lounge Chair from 1944.

Cross-hatch textile by Ray Eames, designed 1945.

This experimental prototype for a fibreglass chair shell was manufactured by John Wills, a Californian fibreglass fabricator. He produced two, and tested them by setting them on a metal bin. Charles Eames could only afford to buy one of the prototypes, so Wills kept the other, and used it as is.


Prototype for a rocking chair, 1948.

Fibreglass chair shells, 1959-68.

Lounge Armchair with a drawing by Saul Steinberg.

Another chair, another drawing.

PAC – Pivot Armchair Cast base, 1969.

Low Table Rod base, 1950.

And so I could continue.

Concurrent is their attitude to life and living.

One feeds the other.

A letter proposing marriage from Charles to Ray.

Close up of a 1:20 scale model of Case Study House No.8 – their home.

A page of a letter from Ray to Charles.


Their way of working prompted similar in others: a page of a letter to the Eames from  Deborah Sussman, who worked at Herman Miller.

In that room about Herman Miller, American furniture designers, there are photographs of their showroom.

The Eames Office designed them, and organised the display.

Often borrowing work from galleries.

Here’s an image of the showroom with a Giacometti.

It is a sculpture of a man – we know this because only men were allowed to walk in Giacometti’s work.

It was extraordinary for me to see.

Giacometti has been on my mind all week, since the opening of the new show at the National Portrait Gallery.

In a show where his attitude to women is implied, but not explicitly discussed.

He subjected women – his wife Annette, his model Caroline, many prostitutes – to psychological attack.

His was not a life of equality.

However extraordinary the work, he was not modern. At a time of change.

Giacometti was a contemporary of Charles and Ray Eames.

This show confirms that then, there was already another world.

Go go go.

It opens tomorrow, runs until 14 February.

A sneak peek at Frieze jolliness: Mark Leckey, Wolfgang Tillmans, Eddie Peake, Camille Henrot etcetc

Frieze London is previewing today.

Here’s a look at what’s what and stuff.

Mark Leckey on Galerie Buchholz.

Also on Galerie Buchholz, that amazing Wolfgang Tillmans crotch moment.

On the amazing Mary Mary from Glasgow, the amazing Emily Mae Smith.

Also on Mary Mary, the amazing Jesse Wine.

(I’m going to stop saying things are amazing. If I’m posting it, take it as a given I think it’s amazing)


The amazing Eddie Peake on Lorcan O’Neill.


Up close.

A Tamagotchi.

OMG the amazing Vittorio Brodmann on Freedman Fitzpatrick.


Ed Fornieles jolliness on Carlos/Ishikawa.

More body bits.

Oh no!
The Sunday Painter has two tonnes of water by Samara Scott.


Close-up on some submerged bread.


Aaron Angell on Rob Tufnell!!!!



So so good.

Some Camille Henrot majorness on Galerie Kamel Mennour.

I mean major.


Part of Jeremy Deller’s work on Modern Institute.


And for true jolliness, John Baldesarri on I-can’t-remember-where.


The new Frank Auerbach show at Tate Britain is about work, and the worth of work as a way of living

At Tate Britain this morning, there was a preview of the new Frank Auerbach show.

It takes a while to understand how to look at it.

The guise is that of a retrospective, with paintings and sketches from each decade from 1950s-2000s.

But Auerbach is a curiosity of an artist.

He is known for his painting style, rather than actual paintings.

His friend Lucien Freud created imagery meant to be individually remembered – the audacity, for example, of painting Leigh Bowery naked.

The guise of the retrospective makes you expect to see a string of bangers.

But Auerbach is not that kind of artist.

He paints every single day, seven days a week.

And five evenings of the week too.

His subjects are often the same: certain friends, the view from studio.

This is a show about work and the work itself.

Rather than the celebrity of an artist, or the fame of an image.

Here’s an early self-portrait, from 1958.



But first time I went round and took pictures in my usual way, it didn’t feel right.

Like I wasn’t showing anything.

It was only when I went round a second time, and got to E.O.W’s Reclining Head II that I started concentrating not on image, but on work.

Here’s that painting.


From the side.


When really the way you want to look at it is like this.


And this.


And this.


And this.


Auerbach has to be seen in close-up as much as in totality.

You need to look at the actual work.

The actual brush strokes, the actual collisions and build-ups of paint.

It’s something the Tate seem to have realised – the front of the catalogue is a close-up.

Across the room is Studio with Figure on Bed II from 1966.


But you don’t want to look at it like that.

You want to look at it like this.


And so it continues.

This is Looking Towards Mornington Crescent Station, from 72-74.


And this is it close up.


It’s when you get close up that the work becomes so energising, and inspiring.

Inspiring as in, I need to do more work.

Because work as an activity is good.


This is Primrose Hill, Summer, from 1968.


Close up.


Head of J.Y.M. II, from 1984-5.


Amazing to see the black, the white, and everything else involved up close.


Head of Julia – Profile, 89-90.


Close up.


Reclining Head of Julia, 1996.


Ohmygod that top left corner.


It’s like individual segments act like works in themselves.

William Feaver Seated, 2011.


That patch in the middle.


Top left.


I mean beyond.

Head of William Feaver, 2003.


The eyes.


That splodge of what I guess is the hair.


To The Studios, 1993-4.


Seen like this, you don’t get all that’s happening bottom left, do you?

Here’s bottom left.


J.Y.M. Seated in the Studio VI, from 1988.


That bit bottom left-ish.


The vivacity of his recent work is incredible.

This is Hampstead Road, High Summer, 2010.

It’s like some kid doing graffiti.

Which I mean as the biggest compliment.


Up close.




And another.


Like I said, a total inspiration.

Work, work, work.



The show opens at Tate Britain on 9 October, runs till 13 March 2016, click here etcetcetc.

Go go go.

And look close close close.

Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent: why is he accused of not being a designer? And what is “design” in fashion today?

I was late to the Saint Laurent show in Paris last night.

Traffic was terrible, and the show started super efficiently at 8.15pm.

But one of the advantages of being tall is that there’s no problem standing at the back.

I was able to see that halfway through, creative director Hedi Slimane sent out a great pair of jeans.





(And apologies for the shonkiness of the image, it’s nicked from voguerunway.com obvs)

The jeans were cut a little looser on the leg, but still with a low waist.

Many cuts of denim rely on skin-tightness to hold them up.

This new cut of jean from Saint Laurent is the work of actual design.

It’s interesting, because a debate about design is brewing around Saint Laurent.

It is often now said that Saint Laurent is not design.

That Slimane is not a designer, but a stylist, or marketeer.

You hear it so often, and it’s the central thrust of the review by Tim Blanks for Business of Fashion.

It raises the question: what actually is design?

I don’t go to that many womenswear shows.

When I do, or when I look at them online, I so often think: wouldn’t it have been great if, instead of all this decoration and pointless novelty in womenswear, the design team had spent the past six months on the cut and fit of garments?

A sleeve of a sweater that sits just so. The perfect pair of pants.

A great new pair of jeans.

To me, that would be the most radical show.

It’s why I’m so excited to see the upcoming Charles and Ray Eames retrospective at the Barbican.

Enlightened design with clarity, and purpose. Beauty that comes from practicality.

So often with fashion, and womenswear in particular, design means something else entirely.

“Design” frequently stands for the creation of drama, whether it be frou-frou, aggressive, confrontational or allegedly pioneering.

Usually it’s the work of gay male designers imposing on women an irrelevant or offensive view of how they should dress.

One of the best pieces of writing of the season came from Alexandra Jacobs of the New York Times, in her review of the show by J.W. Anderson.

She wrote: “It felt like a “hostile mob,” to borrow the Minecraft term — a boy playing pixelated video games with women’s bodies.”

Such actions are seen as “design”.

Also viewed as valid “design” is the blatant copying of others work.

Many actually see it as a positive when a designer clearly lifts ideas from Margiela, Kawakubo, Yamamoto or whoever it is they’re so clearly referencing.

And then, so much “design” in fashion is making clothes that really have no reason to exist.

Polite tinkering with garments, creating an impression of newness for those at the catwalk show, but really doing nothing of any value.

Stores don’t want to stock work from the catwalk, customers don’t want to buy it. They’d rather have something from the commercial collection.

Of course, Hedi Slimane is perfectly capable of creating “design”.

You just have to look back at his menswear from Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche in the late 90s (everyone forgets his strong links to the house), or at Dior Homme in the early 21st century, to see work of flamboyancy and drama.

His shows were pleasing to critics. It was rapture all round.

It was also work founded in true design.

He made his name with skinny jeans and slender suits which were feats of tailoring. The jeans in particular rode close to the leg, then somehow at the hips and waist went outwards, accommodating true bodies while still seeming slight.

I write this as someone who veers between a 34″ and 36″ waist: his skinny jeans fit over Northamptonshire-born hips.

I’m almost 42, getting broader, and I can still wear my Dior Homme tux.

True pieces of design.

Following Slimane’s break from fashion, and his move to LA, he clearly found reason to turn down the volume on “design”.

It’s why so many find his catwalk shows confounding. After four weeks spent dominated by brands offering unnecessary “design”, it’s a shock to find a catwalk from a major label not playing that game.

Not speaking that old fashion language.

I’m not going to review the show here. From the back of the bleachers I could only see so much, and it’s not my field.

But I do think this debate about design is important.

Particularly because it seems like such a personal attack on Slimane himself.

He’s a designer. Get over it.

Slimane sent out some great jeans. They clearly took work. As did the rest of the collection – you just have to look. Women will want to wear it. And the world still turns.