"Berardi, English? I always had him down as an Italian," remarked a high-flying American editor who trooped into a church on North Audley Street to watch the homecoming parade of a designer who was actually born to Sicilian parents 40 years ago in Britain and educated at Central Saint Martins. Yet the editor was right to query Berardi's identity, because the show he put on did turn out to have more than a hint of the Italianate about it, both in style and production quality.

In a good way, that was visible from the first look, a putty-colored skirtsuit opening to a nude, boned, crystal-embellished corset. After that, Berardi started adding elements of samurai armor and the kimono to the structure of shoulders, sleeves, and skirts while hammering home his love of a short, tight dress. Technically, Berardi can pull off some amazing feats with a bra-top body-dress (his best was in white with an external black balconette scooped under the breasts). Yet something in his presentation, which was less rigorously edited than others in London now habitually are, fell into repetition until it began to look like a Berardi best-selling-dresses catalog. That was a misstep, because he does have it in him to be more creative: What stood out in the final lineup was a single skirtsuit in menswear fabric with sheer panels inserted in the shoulders and along the flanks. Berardi should follow that up, offering some other way to be sexy than a dress with a three-inch skirt.