Perhaps with a little joke at his own expense, Nathan Jenden named his collection ¿Gatecrasher¿—an apt title for a New Yorker who¿s just shown up at the young-designer party in London. Or perhaps it was less a quip than a description. His girls, wearing puffy taffeta gowns and strapless cocktail dresses, arrived on the scene throwing attitude in teased-up quiffs, metal-grill veils, and brothel creepers. ¿I¿m English,¿ said the British-born expat designer. ¿London is less sleek. It has a harder edge than New York.¿

In his day job, Jenden is Diane von Furstenburg¿s chief aide-de-camp, and generously, she flew in to support her protégé¿s first London show. In a sign of independence, there wasn't a wrap dress in sight, but the fabrics, like ¿metallic silk linen,¿ ¿optic moiré,¿ and ¿brushed-silk jacquard,¿ had an unmistakable New York polish about them. Styling apart, the substance was in Jenden's puffy-shouldered dresses, a little matte black frock sliced across the shoulders and fitted saucily around the backside, and a suit in sparkly black tweed.

In the end, then, this didn¿t read like a renegade outburst, but as a young designer¿s bid to get a viewing of his collection on a less crowded platform. Which is quite ironic, when you think about it.