In fashion, context counts in large amounts. For today's Aquascutum show, Joanna Sykes surrounded herself with a supercool crew: Vanessa Reid styling, Lucia Pieroni and Paul Hanlon on makeup and hair, the universally adored Dan Lywood and Ben Bridgewater on the decks. Not a bad way to make a break with a past that, as Sykes said, was all about menswear. By way of contrast, she claimed she wanted to do something "extremely precious and fragile, feminine and delicate." Funny, then, that the show partially played out as a fetching debate on the boy/girl thing that constantly ebbs and flows around fashion. So a dramatically slit column in dandelion yellow georgette followed a tweedy pantsuit that wouldn't look amiss on Oliver Twist. And the same tweed made a biker that preceded a black satin-and-lace lingerie jumpsuit.

With this collection, Sykes followed Stella, Phoebe, and Hannah to become the latest example of a special London phenom: designing women who match form to function in an instinctive, sensual, real way. You can tell by the generous way all of them cut a pair of women's trousers. Sykes referred to Aquascutum's 150 years of masculine heritage with a tailcoat (paired with pedal pushers), because, she said, she liked the fact the item was originally designed with a purpose. For the same reason, she laminated her silk georgette, because "that took something delicate and made it functional."