Giles Deacon has pitched up in Milan to show his first collection under contract to Daks, a British brand known from the thirties onward as a solid producer of respectable clothing for English gents and their good lady wives. Before his show, he talked about his ambition to address businesswomen, and since that's a species routinely blanked by fashion designers, his words—and the fact that he is lauded on his own turf as British Designer of the Year—sounded promising.

Given the heritage of the brand, the obvious way to set about creating updated business attire is to work on tailoring, or at least daywear necessities for high achievers. Deacon started out by doing just that, and he came up with a precise, wasp-waisted silhouette with a rounded hip, achieved through boning and a tie-on pad device that goes beneath the coat and jacket. That molded shape—vaguely retro in a New Look-ish way—chimed with both the forties trend and the menswear feeling of the season.

There were well-executed dresses, too, pieced in matte-shine velvet, wool, and duchesse satin, but the show swiftly drifted off into fashion-y "statements" more fit for extreme magazine shoots than any recognizable business agenda. This involved transplanting some of the vast cable-knit pieces and geometric satin patchworks seen in Deacon's own collection, and a big quilted stole device whose practicality beyond the runway is questionable. In other words, it hardly amounted to a riposte to Jil Sander. Perhaps that's because Deacon, frantically working away with his cool gang in east London, doesn't run across many corporate highfliers, or even medium-affluent women with a day job outside fashion. It's not particularly fair to bawl him out for that, because he's only part of a syndrome. Watching shows these days, it's increasingly hard to stifle the thought that the best thing many designers could do is beg to be seconded to an employed woman for a week.