With the gloom of winter drawing in and foreboding portents promised by every newspaper headline, I for one grab every opportunity to bury my head in the sand and celebrate glorious excess - and, with garments glittering like the proverbial festive bauble the KCD press day provided ample opportunity. Packed with four-figure price tags and more razzle dazzle than a pre-Black Monday Jean Louis Scherrer collection, Balmain has been offering an antidote to economic woes for nigh-on three years under new blood Christophe Decarnin - and apparently, that's exactly what the doctor ordered. Next spring continues in his established vein: somewhat removed from the chic but staid style of Balmain past, Decarnin's taste is always a un peu 'le rock' and accordingly there was more glitz in this line-up than a Spice Girls reunion tour. Frogged military jackets had a touch of Billie Jean to them, while asymmetric evening frocks billowing at the back and sliced crotch-short at the front caused one frock watcher to quip "sooo Stephanie Seymour's wedding dress in November Rain!" (I'm not entirely sure if she meant that as a compliment or an insult). Lace, diamante, chain-mail, studs and crystals were layered with gusto on slick, sharp silhouettes built around strong, broad shoulders, defined waist and narrow thigh-gripping skirts. While not everybody will understand or appreciate his flash, trash and somewhat crass reinvention of the Balmain legacy, it's impossible to deny the chutzpah that Decarnin brings to this somewhat faded label, and accordingly his rack was undoubtedly the most plundered. For me, a close second was Zac Posen's collection - garnering mixed reviews in New York, Posen's workmanship withstood closer inspection, pintucked, crystal-embroidered, printed and chiffon-strewn. His striking satin corsets had shades of Horst P. Horst: underpinnings though they may be, they stand up by themselves both aesthetically and physically, stuffed as they were with bombast to fill out Posen's equally bombastic tailoring. Whether padding and cinching women into oyster-coloured silk-satin corsets and dressing them up in arcane costume is entirely in truck with the concerns of the increasingly bleak modern world, however, remains to be seen. But they provide a pretty diversion nonetheless.