There is a particular breed of Englishman who wins the world with his self-deprecating wit and floppy charm. Richard James is one such, and his personality has infused his Savile Row business to great effect—and success—for more than twenty years. But it's been the very devil of a thing for him to get across on a fashion catwalk, which demands a different degree of focus.

That is exactly the reason why James' show today was such a success: focus. It helped, of course, that the clothes on display were dressing such a sharp story. In the fifties, the new Edwardians (or Teds) were the U.K.'s first street-style cult, bridging the sartorial traditions of Savile Row and the rumbles of early rock 'n' roll from across the Atlantic. Today an elongated draped jacket paired with narrow cuffed pants and a couple of Lurex tuxes (complete with string bow ties) were as literal as James allowed himself to get by way of salute. Otherwise, he referenced the outré quality of Ted style with details like the oyster silk shawl collar on a gray flannel jacket, or the decadent flair of a three-piece suit in aubergine velvet.

The man for such clothes also had the choice of a blue leather biker jacket, a military jacket in navy or olive moleskin, or a capacious herringbone overcoat, alongside the heathery windowpane-checked suiting that is a James signature. And somehow it all made sense, which has been a bit of a problem for the designer in the past. Maybe it was simply that the incongruity of James' flight of fancy this season made him aware of the need to create a solid, coherent foundation for his tribute to the Teds. Whatever—it worked.