'DON'T call it kitsch' instructed Danielle Scutt backstage after her latest show - which, if not an excursion into kitsch, was certainly a glorification of some of the naffer nadirs of late twentieth century pop culture. Sweetheart necklines, ruffles, puffed shoulders, lace shorts and a buttock-grazing bronze leather and organza prom dress: intellectual introversion this wasn't. These were clothes stripped of all hi-falutin conceptualism and resolutely two-dimensional, down to jutting paper-flat ruffles and undersized frocks appliqued to the front of cocktail dresses like elaborate pinnies - purportedly inspired by late seventies Spanish postcards of senoritas sporting stuck-on outfits. Spain was the last place this collection conjured up - high-piled fifties pastiche coiffures had the acrid, hairsprayed air of eighties New York, both the sophisticated salons of Tom Wolfe's social x-rays and the danker enclaves of the Mudd Club. Likewise the prints, polka-dots inspired by España but misplaced and reconfigured into skinny tube dresses or bold-shoulder décolletage peplum suits that resembled cartoon working women as rendered by Roy Lichtenstein. Prints have always been a Scutt standout, and these were some of her best: brash red and fuchsia combined with bold black squiggles, part Zandra Rhodes, part Keith Haring. You don't need to think too hard about this gloriously vulgar collection to know it was just what we needed from Scutt. But strip the show of any concept, as she demanded, and what are you left with? All the staid and tired stereotypes of prettiness given a knowing postmodern rework to please the crowds, alongside simple, brief silk frocks exploding with fullness at the hem, layer upon Mommy Dearest layer of chiffon ruffles and those fantastic, exuberant prints. It was totally, utterly wrong. Which may explain why it felt so right.
These were clothes stripped of all hi-falutin conceptualism and resolutely two-dimensional, purportedly inspired by late-seventies Spanish postcards.