When the press blunders backstage in search of the key to Giles Deacon's collections, he usually comes up with a surprise. This season it was a horror movie: The Masque of the Red Death, an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's story of "people partying in a castle with everyone dying outside." Or, as Deacon also paraphrased it: "Femme fatale in a gothic disco!"

In retrospect, that did make a little more sense of the red dresses, the heads tied up in black veils, the spidery gothic sweaters knitted from yarn as fine as embroidery silk, and the billowy Hammer-horror hooded cape or two. By the sound of it, this might have been a collection that trod into Alexander McQueen's macabre storytelling territory, but no. Deacon never uses his clothes to support a narrative from beginning to end, or to suggest anything very subversive. In the end, attempting to join the dots between a series of couture puffas in duchesse satin, padded fin-de-siècle prints, a bone-colored leather dress, and a suede column with "millipede" fringe running down the front is a pointless exercise. What Deacon does, at best, is one-off special dresses with a lot of individualistic handcraft going on in them—clothes that happen to have a photogenic quality that reads well both on magazine pages and on the red carpet. Coherent on the runway or not, there are plenty of pieces in this collection that will meet that criterion just fine.