One of the advantages of heritage companies is they tend to have snappy slogans to inspire incoming creative directors. For her third collection at the house, Joanna Sykes was particularly taken with Aquascutum's "Dressing the Powerful." That used to mean kings, generals, politicians, but what Sykes had in mind was, she said, "a Tarantino woman, dark, provocative, dangerous."

With a new Italian manufacturing deal in place, Sykes claimed she was now free to focus on design. The immediate impression of her new collection was structure, emphasized by cagelike, almost bondage straps running round hems, or angular architectural details like the patent stripes on an oxblood leather coat, or the zippers that streamlined outerwear closings. Bonded fabrics added substance. The tailored silhouette echoed the military precision of Aquascutum's past, in a gray officer's coat or olive jacket cropped over matching pants and a snowy-white poplin shirt.

Where the danger lay with this woman was anyone's guess, but maybe Sykes meant that the whimsy she initially brought to Aquascutum has been shelved in favor of a sleek, sexy hard edge. Any woman willing to don the low-slung pants with the cutout top is guaranteed to kick ass.