What's black and white and read all over? The first look from Luella Bartley's lively yet focused spring show: an alphabet Jacquard trouser suit cut sharp and lean with matching shoes. After sampling from rockabilly last season and the yacht club set before that, Bartley's gone mod and, in a surprise move for a designer who helped invent the charm-laden handbag, almost minimal. There were sexy second-skin jeans, striped tees to layer under cardigans or zip-front jackets, and silver macs on her Sony Music Studios runway, along with patent leather winkle pickers and graphic plastic shades.
But no matter where her inspiration leads, Bartley can always be counted on for a cheeky party dress and a proper preppy sweater and button-down set. This season, the former came embellished with pieces of shattered mirror stitched into the letter B. Freja Beha closed the show in a pink lamé lampshade skirt and a T-shirt that spelled G-E-E-K. Try as she might, though, Bartleyand the clothes she makeswill never be anything but cool.