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Sadie Frost and Jemima French opened the proceedings by sending out Jacquetta Wheeler in a cherry-sprigged white swimsuitall fifties innocencewith a pink rubber Mackintosh shrugged on top. That knack for meshing the pretty with the perverse is what they’re all about: less a complex design process than the act of whipping up some fun with what happens to be in the wardrobe. “I don’t have the time to think out what I wear every morning,” said Sadie Frost. “But I always like that mix of feminine and tough, things you can pull on day or night.”
On the ingénue side, the girls offered forties-inspired sweetheart puff-sleeved print dresses, balloon-sleeved chiffon blouses in Ossie Clarklike seventies swirls, and outsize wooden-handled purses in the shape of granny’s knitting bags. Watch how they sex it up, though: adding perverse black inflatable arm-bands to an evening outfit of a sheer black camisole and silk knickers; or imagining how a lace-trimmed satin romper would do for daywear when pulled over a striped Lurex sweater. Throwing in some grounding pieces of rumpled cotton khakithe odd jacket or cropped pantdid no harm, either, steering the show away from theatrics and making it simply a practical inventory of useful stuff. “We don’t want to be overshadowed by gimmicks,” said Jemima French. “We’ve moved on. We want the clothes to speak for themselves.” Even the much-publicized breakup of Frost’s marriage to Jude Law hadn’t disrupted their focus. “Sometimes,” said Frost in the face of a barrage of TV reporters’ questions, “You just have to get stronger and face situations.”