It seemed a prescient move to bring back the Biba label two seasons ago. It resurfaced heavy seventies platforms just before anyone had gotten into them, and it proposed balloon-sleeved jersey dresses and silver lamé long-line cardigans before fashion turned in that direction. Trouble is, by now every mass-market retailer is churning out so many 60th-generation Biba ideas that the label's whole reason for being has been undermined.

The Fall runway didn't give any evidence that the mother brand had thought of a way to save this situation. The flippy minidresses, ankle-grazing maxi coats, and cropped-flare mod suits looked like the kind of thing that's already overavailable in fast-fashion chains. Besides that, the presentation was amateurish and sloppy, especially in a week in which young independents have upped the ante in terms of polish and discipline. The desultory way the models stopped short before the end of the runway seemed a metaphor for the low energy behind the collection. If the designer, Bella Freud, wants to compete, she'll have to first improve the fabrics, and then slick up the way Biba shows.