Peter Dundas' primary achievement at Emilio Pucci is in spinning out a narrative for the woman who wears his clothes. Pre-Peter, an abstract idea of swirly print scarves and some sixties apres ski was pretty much Pucci's identity. Now there is the Pucci Girl, and you see her in nightclubs, hotspots and Pucci boutiques across the world. You know where she lives - somewhere filled with gold and marble very much like the Palazzo Serbelloni where Dundas stages his razzmatazz catwalk show - and you have a vague idea of how she lives. At least, you know it doesn't involve a nine-to-five, unless its pm through am. Most of all, you know what she wears: Dundas' itsy-bitsy, sex-pumped overwrought micro-dresses, sometimes with an equally tiny biker jacket thrown over, occasionally with a ludicrously minute clutch-bag. It's become her uniform.
The Pucci girl isn't going to be happy this season. Because Dundas got the message about covering up and paring down, to a degree. The trio of black dresses that opened his Autumn/Winter 2012 show were about the simplest and sleekest garments he's ever done, tight, black and unadorned, slits mostly veiled with chiffon (a few slithers of flesh showed through, granted). They set the tone for the first dozen all-black outfits, juxtaposing patent, jersey and chiffon to confuse our perceptions of fabric and flesh. Crocodile has become something of a hyper-luxe fixture this season, and Dundas played games with chopping out scales and reapplying them to stretch chiffon, sometimes exchanging real croc for velvet to veil a back in a hide recreated in devore.
Other than the black, the other big Pucci story was the tailoring. Dundas has done tailored blazers and coats before, but they've always been pinched to within an inch of their lives around his women's figures. This time, they were cut wide and - dare we say - relaxed, a powder-blue tuxedo slouched over the shoulders, or an oversized peacoat in curly lamb thrown over narrow trousers. His 'bride' even closed the show in a parka in white mink, tossed across a silk gown gashed open and then re-embroidered. Punk de luxe. There's a contradiction in terms.
This collection was less focused than Dundas' normal fayre for Pucci, but ultimately it ended up feeling less one-note. Rather than devoting his attention to encrusting tiny slips with layers upon layers of beading, Dundas let his design wings stretch and tackle the time before the girl goes out to party. There were garments here that very many women would want to wear throughout the day - and a day that involves lame lounging pyjamas, Mongolian lamb overcoats and some ferociously well-cut trousers sounds quite fabulous indeed. Their presence only increased the impact of the fluttering, printed evening garb that has become a Pucci red carpet signature, not the other way around. The Pucci girl will be sad - she seems to have lost her go-to designer for three dozen seven-figure evening gowns every season. For every other woman, Dundas' Pucci deserves to be a new wardrobe staple.