Sometimes observers have a hard time reconciling the two sides of the designer Giles Deacon. On the one hand there is the cartoonish frippery he likes to lace his collections with, and on the other there is the dark, sexually charged sophistication that also seeps through. "I want to unite the two sides in this collection," said Deacon just before his Spring show. "I think in many ways the person I always come back to is Allen Jones."
The pop and perversity of the artist Allen Jones has been a touchstone for Deacon since he was a teenager, and a notion of "Jonesian" graphic delineation came to the fore in his Spring collection. There was an interest in graphic line, with Deacon's fashion illustrations sprung to life, and this was mainly explored through the use of black and white laser-cut leather and silk photo-prints; it was an illustrated woman who shifted along lines from punk to pop, and her motif was smashed glass.
"Initially I had been thinking about Jayne Mansfield and the place she occupies in pop culture," explained Deacon. "She is such a graphic figure, comic and tragic. And is defined by that car crash." For a while it was believed that Mansfield's fatal accident decapitated the actress, and it has made her the focus of obsessives ever since. "She is a significant figure for John Waters and J.G. Ballard," said the designer. "And I don't see why I can't like both." The designer showed that humour and sex aren't mutually exclusive with a look that resembled a French maid's outfit with a Peter Pan collar: It had the connotations of Allen Jones' work, and also of a Benny Hill sketch. A silk dress with a photo-print of smashed glass and jewelry, together with one of Stephen Jones' artificial-hair hats, could evoke a camp crime scene or an illustration of a geisha or bombshell. The two sides of Deacon and his collection are not incompatible, and it's the sense of intense craftsmanship within his design sensibility that ultimately binds them together.