Giles Deacon has been interviewed for the design vacancy at Givenchy and is waiting to hear the outcome. That was the news backstage after he delivered his best show to date, a collection unmistakably designed as a set piece audition for the last empty couture seat in Paris. The challenge focused Deacon's mind on demonstrating how totally serious he is about wanting to design grown-up, even grand, clothes. For the first time in three seasons, he dispensed with his ironic British tinkerings with borderline bad taste and went straight for old-school classic chic of the kind he hopes will translate across the English Channel.

Deacon set out to show he can cut it with the best of them, meaning everything from snug riding jackets inset with velvet to well-cut pantsuits, decorative paillette cocktail dresses, and extravagant opera coats. He redirected his former experiments with volume into ballooning sleeves, bubble jackets, and puffy unpressed hems, producing shapes that directly recall the haute eveningwear of 1950's couture. Among all this, there were one or two knowing references to the design ethos of Hubert de Givenchy himself (a white puff-sleeve blouse here, an Audrey like peacoat there). Still, there was more than enough to prove that Deacon wasn't simply resorting to slavish pastiche, a design cul-de-sac that other young Givenchy incumbents have floundered in before. Increasingly, Deacon is developing his own sophisticated handwriting, particularly in the flowing, high-waisted, vaguely seventies gowns that finished the show. It remains to be seen whether Givenchy's parent, LVMH, will want to risk hiring a fourth young British Central Saint Martins graduate for the job, after John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, and Julien Macdonald. But if this collection doesn't convince the company about the caliber of Deacon's talent, nothing will.