London fashion week got off to a quiet but determined start, in spite of cancellations by Paul Smith, Clements Ribeiro, Katharine Hamnett and Burberry. Jasper Conran set the tone by issuing a defiant statement of intent, saying the "objectives of terrorism are not only to kill but also to disrupt. It is not our intention to allow these people to prevail by bowing out of our responsibility to our industry and democracy."
Conran followed with a collection that reflects the taste of the heartland of Tony Blair's new Britainaccessible, understandable dressing for grown-ups who haven't forgotten how to flirt. Working with pimento, black and white, he incorporated subtle '30s and '40s references into silk polka-dot dresses and blouses, sharpened by tailoring, sometimes in napa.
At his best, Conran proves himself a worthy successor to Jean Muir, whose remit was always beautiful jersey cut for Brit sophisticates. The element of slinkiness in his sinuous black jersey dresses showed him at the top of his form, proving why he is one of London's most commercial designers: Aside from this collection, he reaches the whole of Britain through 96 branches of the Debenhams department store, for whom he designs extensive ranges under the label "J."