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Hussein Chalayan’s SS16 collection was about Cuba. “Though some designers go to India and get inspired and come back and do some Indian embroidery, I try to learn from the experience,” he said backstage. This would not be an homage to Che Guevara — despite the military flavour.

Chalayan had wanted the collection to examine the evolution of cultural style within a hermetically sealed society, and his looks wavered between sharp drill tailoring, deconstructed uniforms and playful prints and dresses. He had created a cartoon character, “the Plonk”, a little dancing ant motif that played on ruffled dresses and the designer’s own cotton T-shirt. The Plonk had helped fuse the themes of colonial and tropical, and the dresses were Chalayan’s celebration of the island’s sartorial signatures. “Why should a place be validated by western styles?” he shrugged. “Cuba is a beautiful place.”

At the show’s centre stood two girls dressed in papery lab coats. At the halfway point the showers were turned on and the coats dissolved into a pulpy gloop to reveal exquisite crystal embellished gowns. This sartorial metaphor for transition was not without peril — the models skidded around on their wood-soled heels for the rest of the show. But it was worth it for the gown’s Swarovski crystal coconuts glinting underneath.

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Photographs: Catwalking

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