God bless Louise Gray. You do forget sometimes, shuttling around the city's recently slicked-up fashion week, that London was once the place to see shows with models wearing hats made out of trash bags. But you can always count on Gray to tune you back into that trademark English eccentricity. The bin-bag hats on Gray's catwalk today were created by Stephen Jones, and if this is a just universe, they will be shot for a great many Fall '13 editorials. There were also earrings made out of whisks, and a toilet-paper-roll brooch, and dresses that looked like they'd been patched together with tinfoil. The theme of the collection was, in essence, insanity. Yes. Gray's show made for something of a palate cleanser amid the tasteful good sense on so many other runways.
Gray's special gift is to make looks that are pretty much loony tunes seem convincing. There's no logical reason why a sparkly dungaree dress in two very clashing patterns should come off as a viable thing to wear, especially in the daytime, and more especially, over a sweatshirt. And yet The spirit of Gray's collection was so positive, it empowered you to entertain a look that was, perhaps, a little crazy. Not that all the designs here were altogether mad: As usual, some reasonable garments could be extracted, such as color-blocked mohair sweaters or quilted coats, shifts, and suits in abstract, tonal patterns. Admittedly, even Gray's more accessible pieces were not for the faint of heart. But then, her whole project as a designer is to denounce sartorial faintheartedness. The challenge she raised today was particularly keen. She deserves kudos just for carrying on the good fight.