September 16, 2007 London
The things she did with tiny Liberty-style florals were an object lesson in how to contradict sweet with street. She dip-dyed the hem of a print dress, put military epaulets on a shift, turned the florals into a flounced "batwoman" cape flowing from the shoulders, and plasticized them to make a sixties dolly-bird mac. A green plaid Peter Pan-collared dress faithful to Birch in the 2001 film; a sharp, shiny mohair pantsuit; and a funny twinset with a bat logo on the breast stood out, although they had tough competition from the accessories. Luella's new bags are giant navy patent totes and orange see-through plastic shoppers, and she's been letting herself loose with plastic-poppy hair ornaments, too.
All in all, it was a grand demonstration of the evolution of Luella Bartley, the brattish British designer who left to show her collection in New York and came back polished up as the homecoming queen of bankable product.