It's not fair to thrust an eighties theme on a designer who didn't intend one, but that's what happened to Danielle Scutt after her show. Where others saw something Mugler-esque in the black suit with dramatic red cutout lapels and skirt detail that opened Scutt's show, she saw…prize cockerels. "The red shape's from the coxcomb they have," she insisted, shrugging that the eighties mean little to her: "I was only born in 1981."

Nevertheless, Scutt's woman, with her manipulated feather-print bodysuits and strong shoulders, is an unmistakably feisty bird who is now bent on survival. Scutt said she'd returned to her obsession with decorative poultry breeds—a theme she's explored before—because she wanted to do something intense and condensed in a tough financial season. "What I like about cockerels," she explained, "is their plumage and their pride. And because I could only do a small show, I started remembering everything you have to do to stand out when you're graduating from Saint Martins: Make the strongest statement you can in a few outfits." Still, Scutt used her airtime on the runway to prove that she's come a long way from a student mentality in some ways—the dramatic swing-back coat and a re-embroidered printed jersey tunic dress had the hallmarks of a growing sophistication.