There were so many intriguing tickles in Veronique Branquinho's collection today: armfuls of wooden bracelets that evoked Man Ray's iconic portrait of the fabulous Nancy Cunard; a soundtrack that embraced Ian Curtis intoning "Ceremony" and Marilyn Monroe crooning "One Silver Dollar"; clothes that married a Dietrich-precise Deco languor with the primal fuzz of the animal kingdom; an obi/chastity belt. Sit back and picture what that kind of mix should add up to. Eclectic, yes, and yet what actually came out on the catwalk had an almost clinical restraint. It did, however, support Branquinho's insistence that there was no big theme. "I wanted to evoke sophistication," she said.
She was loving the length of an elongated pencil skirt. Not retro—a modern way to do a long-skirted look, Branquinho felt. And that was clearly a challenge she set herself elsewhere, because she scooped up a whole lot of relatively old-fashioned notions and fired them out onto the catwalk. Herringbone, plaid, animal prints, cowboy hats and studs, a safari jacket that could have been plucked from Katharine Hepburn's closet…the show desperately needed an edit. And the clothes? With the camel that opened the show, Branquinho took us back to the elegantly monochrome moment in her designer past when her acolytes swooned. It's a joy to think that she had Nancy Cunard on her mind while she was designing this collection. Maybe it would help if she tied the conviction of her earlier self to the who-cares quality of that particular muse.