Cecil Beaton, Andy Warhol, Leda and the Swan and Nudie's Rodeo Couture. Of all the inventive, eclectic designers working in London, Giles Deacon's reference-points are always the most esoteric. Maybe it's because his aesthetic is so well honed that he can roam far and wide for his inspiration. Whatever Deacon looks at, on his catwalk it always becomes Giles.
For spring, Deacon latched on to the silvery, shiny metallic mood that has run like a thread of mercury through the season. Of course, he pushed it further - witness the bacofoil Factory backdrop to his collection, and the first half-dozen looks in Ziggy Stardust silver leather. Deacon's SHOWstudio residency back in July inspired those, he said, starting him off looking at Nudie's dazzling cowboy suits, Warhol Superstars and the idea of smoke and mirrors. That symphony in silver lead him to Cecil Beaton, and his Surrealist portraits of his photogenic debutante siblings Nancy and Baba. Then there were John Maybury's shots of Leigh Bowery in a silver mask that Deacon remembered admiring in his teenage years - and so a collection was born.
What it boiled down to were more of Deacon's greatest hits - neat suiting, pretty prints and a few overblown, editorial-ready ball-gowns for good measure. That's not to denigrate those signatures. The print was an abstract rendering of swans swooping across fitted frocks and wide trousers, the suiting came in black, red and Persil white, trousers elongated to infinity over towering platforms. Those diva dresses, meanwhile, were exquisite, laser-cut duchesse satin imitating lace, encrusted with crystals and feathers and sweeping as regally as any of Beaton's iconic royal portraits.
The Surrealism of Beaton was best evoked by the spectacular Stephen Jones headpieces, a trio of masks exploding into life-sized swans in black, red and white with fluttery ostrich-wings and diamante beaks. There was a bit of Warhol in them too - you could just imagine Candy Darling strutting around the back room of Max's Kansas City, make-up melting down her face under her swan atop a feather-trimmed Giles' hostess gown. Giles loves a touch of divine decadence, especially if it borders on camp excess. 'Borders' is the wrong word - this collection teetered precariously on the brink of terribly bad taste, but Giles' balancing-act paid off.