London roots don't get much root-ier than Nathan Jenden's self-described "son of a genuine Cockney." So here he was, showing in an East End venue that's usually home to boxing matches, and he seemed to be suggesting in his show notes that the big bows that wrapped a lot of the outfits were a tip of the cap to Bow, as in the church (you can't be a Cockney unless you're born within the sound of Bow bells). But in those same notes, he also said something about "Aztec priestesses and mad Mexican empresses." And he called his show She, the title of a Victorian potboiler about an immortal sorceress. All of which whetted the appetite for some full-on fashion barbarism (foxy boxing, perhaps?).
So what a surprise it was that the designer appeared more engaged by pantalooned, petticoated girlies from a Feydeau farce than by any notion of primal womanhood. Layers of tulle petticoats frothed beneath full pleated overskirts; awning-striped shorts nestled below a blouse with huge leg-o'-mutton sleeves; and a poet's shirt billowed over full knickers, over which tiers of poufs also swelled. Lace, ruffles, bows, bubble skirts, huge white thingsthe overload was compounded by high-heeled mules, which, if the young mannequins' efforts were any indication, would function much better as lying-around shoes for grandes horizontales of La Belle Époque.
There was the (merest) suggestion of Maya in the burst of a bougainvillea petticoat, a fuchsia ruffle, and a strapless dress hand-painted with gold leaf (definitely one for your next human sacrifice). The prevailing sense, though, was that Jenden was playing away from his home at Diane von Furstenberg (who showed her support front-row center) by overindulging his own romantic fantasies for once.