June 06, 2012 London
"Simple shapes with nice details." That, according to Giles Deacon, is what he enjoys about designing pre-collections. But such a bland summation doesn't come anywhere near close to pinning down the delirious essence of his latest Resort range. Poised awkwardly between the chilly rigor of the marble statuary he'd photographed at Castle Howard (the stately home where Brideshead Revisited was filmed) and the slapdash vigor of Making Paper, the design app he uses on his iPad, the clothes were an unhinged hybrid of classic and cartoon. A lot of the statues Giles photographed were missing their heads, so he topped them with one of his own drawings. The clash of trompe l'oeil marble drape and googly-eyed popstrel was even more extreme when printed on a silk evening dress that dipped to an elegant bow at the base of the spine. It was the sort of languid silhouette you'd imagine one of the legendarily game Mitford sisters sporting at a Castle Howard house party back in the 1930's. Except for that print, of course, and the fact that Giles had slathered the bodice with hologram sequins. "Rave Mitford," he called it. In that spirit, there was also a tank and skirt combination that might have made a tennis outfit for a Mitford, except that it was in pink Lurex. Likewise the pleated, racer-backed, princess-line Lurex dress that felt ready for a rave at Wimbledon. (The designer dresses Li Na, China's top female tennis player.) Giles turned the heads he'd imposed on his statues into a graphic black and white print of red-lipped little characters wearing cloche hats and driving goggles (again, an echo of fast-living dames from another era). Printed on body-conscious stretch canvas, they were the most winning element in the collection. The same print was shrunk down and abstracted to create a camo-like pattern in silk polyester jacquard, which Giles cut into cocktail dresses and coats (detailed in more of that pink Lurex) and cropped jackets that could do double duty—bolero or bed jacket. Such eccentric formality was a reminder that Giles came into this world admiring the extreme style of fashion gorgons like Helena Rubenstein (there were also timely hints of Diana Vreeland here). These are his guns, and he's sticking to them. Or, as he puts it, "the more personal you can make it, the more relevant it is." It's definitely a thing of wonder that there seem to be so many women for whom these odd clothes strike that chord of relevance.
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