There was a subterranean Alice in Wonderland vibe to the Mulberry presentation today. Under normal circumstances, that's the kind of cutesy/kooky look this brand works overtime to telegraph, in very non-subterranean ways, but in this instance it was accidental, a byproduct of the collection's theme of enlargement. After a while, watching all those swollen sleeves, giant sweaters, magnified checks, and mega-size pleats come down the runway put you in mind of a shrunken Alice, searching for the pill that would make her big again. The emphasis on disproportion was conscious here; one suspected that the slightly surreal effect was not.

But then again, who knows? With this collection, Mulberry's Emma Hill seemed to aim for a new mood, a brooding tone atypical of her distinctly chipper style. The palette was almost uniformly dark, with an emphasis on black, wine tones, and a very pretty deep emerald. Aside from some accenting hits of yellow, there was nothing bright on the runway. And Hill's best prints, dense florals that she also executed in jacquard, had a weird, moonlit quality, as if one were sleepwalking through a garden at night. The enveloping rich and fuzzy textures hinted at something similarly uncanny. So there was a strangeness to this collection, which was welcome, but it wasn't quite strange enough. As a whole, the show communicated Mulberry's upbeat party line, which is that a gentle eccentricity is best celebrated through clothes that are a touch girlish and very natty and polished. The most reiterated silhouette was a short skirt with giant, cheerleader-style godet pleats. This season, the cheerleader was summoning a dreamy, dark attitude. But you never got the sense she wouldn't make it to the pep rally on time.