February 18, 2003 London
This collection, based lightly on a cinematic chic of the 60s, showed why. When Erin O’Connor walked out in a black shearling coat picked out with narrow bands of white leather, wearing slingbacks and swinging a matching patent purse on a chain, you could feel the collective shoulders of the audience drop with relief. It was a commitment to a certain snappy glamour, a nod to Audrey Hepburnand even if we’ve seen it before, well, it’s a plot whose appeal never dims.
For day, the designer turned out smart little tweed coats with shearling collars, concise pea jackets and slim, well-cut black pants that were a current gloss on a classic. For evening, he had thought through all the variations on formalwear a modern woman might need and responded with pretty but practical scalloped-edge satin skirts and coats, and delicate powder-puff-pink dresses that burst into layers of ostrich at the skirt. To Conran’s credit, by the end of the show he’d shaken off any lingering shadow of retro.