"This is so not a collection about Black Swan," Giles Deacon said backstage before his show. Rather, it was a panoply of interlocking, stream-of-consciousness references. The Silver Swan, the automaton from the Bowes Museum near Deacon's hometown in County Durham, led to society swans photographed by Cecil Beaton, whom the designer dubbed "the Andy Warhol of his day." Deacon was also influenced by Beaton's Symphony in Silver portrait of his sister Baba; that led him to Warhol's Factory and Silver Clouds, which cued the runway backdrop.

The most marked change between the designer's Spring and Fall efforts, for both his own label and for Emanuel Ungaro, was an almost dreamy lightness. The first look out—a gorgeous, fluid white suit—might have floated away, with its white swan headdress leading the way.

There was undeniably a couturier's spirit in Deacon's collection, from those brocade Mad Men-ish cocktail dresses and gowns with ostrich plumes and tiered cutwork lace, to the stiff silver laser-cut leather that gave models their own automated elegance. You could see that as a playing out of Beaton's beauties, but perhaps another way to view it is as an au revoir to the ateliers of Ungaro, which the designer diplomatically said he'd treasured his time in. But Deacon also fast-forwarded to sharper, more modern times with tailored pieces in a 3-D swan-printed satin, and filmy yet slightly sporty looks in red and black animal-print lace layered with bandeaus and briefs.

As Deacon pointed out, the swan may be supremely elegant, but it's also fierce and savage. (Hmm… Is there a parallel to be made with some women who love fashion?) Perhaps a pair of crimson gowns weren't meant to be anything as macabre as bloody brides, but once the idea got into your head, it was dark and hard to shake. Certainly the look that closed the show had something ominous about it, with its red swan headdress looking poised to pluck out someone's eye: beauty with bite, exactly as it should be here.