Last season, Jaeger London seemed to hit its mark with cleanly cut and traditionally oriented sportswear. And when the first look—a pristine white coat, edged in black along one lapel—appeared at today's show, it suggested that there would be a continuation of that winning strategy. But it turned out design director Stuart Stockdale had other ideas, namely a desire to celebrate modern British artists.

That raised an issue: When it comes to clothing, particularly items meant to be worn and not merely photographed, art and fashion are frenemies, at best. Stockdale borrowed a punchy graphic sensibility from abstract artist Robyn Denny, and from the work of sculptor Rachel Whiteread he extrapolated ideas about negative space. It was the latter that tripped up the proceedings, inspiring awkward experiments with proportion, asymmetry, and sheer fabrics.

There were quite a few great sporty-smart pieces—a bell-sleeved trench with buttoned-back lapels, little pleated shorts in cotton or suede (especially good were a pair topped by a skinny, stripey knit), and fresh-looking macramé knits—but a real message never seemed to crystallize. We'd be the last to say fashion isn't an art, but sometimes these bedfellows should stick to their own sides.