Nattier, Rigaud and the buttoned-up femmes of the Ancien Régime is hardly the inspirational fodder you expect to be taking centre-stage in a Giles collection - after all, Giles Deacon is a designer who has Pacman as a muse, sent out bags in the shape of gremlins and dinosaurs, and stuffed a pile-up of Minis with gerbera daisies as a set for a show where Anna Dello Russo trotted out in fondant-fancy lace clutching stuffed toy sheep named 'Fungaro'. Straight-laced - or faced - he ain't. But the frills and furbelows of Versailles were the inspiration behind Deacon's latest offering for resort, but updated for 2012.
The update came through Deacon's steadfast removal of any element of stiffness - even his duchesse satin Watteau-back gowns in shades of navy and Rose de Pompadour had a fluidity of movement to them. Paniers became gathered fullness belling out at the hem of short shifts, and the whaleboned corps of court costume were reinterpreted as an intricately-seamed cap-sleeve top fanning out across the hips of skinny cropped trousers. The ladies of the court themselves cropped up, in a print of Nattier's rose-strewn portrait of the Marquise d'Antin - Giles mirrored it, refracting it almost into abstraction, or chopped up its composite parts so garlands of flowers danced across simple crepe de chine tops or draped bias dresses. Giles has evidently learned a trick from his time at Ungaro: these gowns had a distinct Parisian polish to them, not to mention a liquid drape that attests to many hours spent with the Ungaro flou atelier. A gold lamé-threaded gingham had a touch of Versailles gilt to it - albeit Versailles via Vegas, the kind of bad-taste tack Giles loves so much to deflate anything that may have looked even slightly pompous. Although with Deacon's deftness of touch, that was never really an issue, was it?
Returning to that humour, it must be noted that Deacon's stand as the finest lookbook shots of the entire resort season. Catch the moving gremlins, miniature dolls, the man himself and even Fungaro making Hitchcockian cameos in these ad-hoc, off-cuff shots of an accomplished collection that could never be described as either.