Julien Macdonald was quick to point out that his 35-piece collection wasn't resort or cruise; it was a "Christmas flash," which gave it a certain climactic specificity. Baby, it's getting colder outside, so Macdonald made knitwear to throw over his party frocks. For skin not yet kissed by holiday sun, he kept his colors on the dark and—it must be said—dreary side, with dusty, washed-out jewel tones. Even the white of a classically draped cocktail dress had an aged chalkiness. Macdonald lives on Portobello Road, and his vintage finds from the market there had a big influence on pieces that at times had a thirties languor, a twenties flapper quality, and something even earlier, with tattered lace and faded ruffles that could have come from Miss Havisham's closet.

The aggressive sexiness that characterized the designer's work in the past was absent, though his emphasis on bias cutting made even the most prosaic-looking piece snake sinuously around the body. Where Macdonald's Christmas really flashed was in his knitwear. Again, all of it had a worn, deliberately snagged look, but there was a slouchy appeal to the sweater dresses. One was essentially a man's polo-neck jumper with corset-laced shoulders; another a cardigan, also corset-laced. Too gothic for seasonal cheer, but sly and sexy just the same.