Stripping back and focusing on what fashion is really about for them is the order of the day for many designers this season. And many of them are spelling out their agendas in graphic black and white. James Long is no exception. "I asked myself: Who are the girls I really like?" he said at his presentation today. "I wrote a list of them. I decided the girls I liked were not squeaky clean; they are more wipe clean!" For this collection, top of the list came PJ Harvey. "I saw her recently at the Albert Hall; her show was stripped-back, that concentration on her," Long said. "I found her inspiring, although I always have." Up there too was Winona Ryder's character in Beetlejuice, Lydia Deetz.

Mixed with this direct feminine inspiration was the graphic work of the artist John Baldessari, particularly his approach to text. The two influences met in the handwritten, doodling embroidery on some of Long's garments, the written list bound into the material like girlish love notes in a school exercise book, though these were penned by the designer himself.

Long is learning to reconcile the masculine and feminine in his output—he is somewhat more established as a maker of menswear—and in his case, that means the two are converging more and more. The pleated motif that recurred throughout his collection is one that was established in the men's Spring clothes; the leather—particularly his signature leather jackets and shorts—and knits are both fundamentals introduced in his earlier collections for men. Today he was decidedly on the right track; men and women are not so different after all. And many of the standout pieces did have a tougher, more masculine edge: the belted sundresses, for instance, that had the thick leather strapping around the chest, or the chevron-stitched leather jacket that simply shifted from one sex to the other.

"I don't know girls who wear lace, so why would I do lace?" said Long. Instead, there were graphic stitched cutouts on skirts that sufficed for decoration together with the earlier writing, and something the designer referred to as "ecto-slime" braiding. Presumably, he was possessed with the spirit of Lydia Deetz with that one—quite useful for a male designer in the womenswear world.