The tough-girl mood emerging as key for next season's collections has always been Luella Bartley's forte, and with Bobby Gillespie front-row and the younger (and prettier) of the Geldof sisters on the runway, her Autumn/Winter 2009 ode to rock couldn't have come at a better time. Last season's pastel-strewn garden party was long-forgotten, ditto the herbaceous border prints crawling across flimsy, flippy frocks. Instead of the Queen Mum, we had resilient working-class Lancashire garb straight off The Road To Wigan Pier. Hardy salt-and-pepper tweeds and stout wools in a peat-bog palette of mud, slate-grey and moss were crafted into swingy overcoats, neat jackets and firm schoolgirl pinafore dresses, accessorised with work (wo)men's hats and sturdy satchels. Decoration, though plentiful, was also hard and utilitarian: glistening gold buttons, zips, hook-and-eye fastenings and dungaree buckles, many battoning down the signature Luella bows, or bouncing flirtily at the coccyx of firm little dresses. Later, gold emerged again to marry evening with day, in a redux of Spring's sell-through brocade suiting (this time in gold, silver and black) and burnished lamé dance frocks, sometimes combined with polka-dot devore in deep French navy. Despite these seeming flashes of cash, the collection itself was resolutely low-key - Luella's invite depicted the lurid green pyramid graphic straight off US currency weeping over a pile of dollar symbols, but Luella's dark suiting and simple, fuss-free shapes seemed unconcerned with conspicuous consumption. The clothes themselves were no great departure from her standard fayre: prom dresses puffed of sleeve and skirt, slim-cut ironic Chanel-alike suits, and every skirt resolutely sliced mid-thigh are all as perfectly suited to Luella's youthful clientele as her prices.
Instead of the Queen Mum, we had resilient working-class Lancashire garb straight off The Road To Wigan Pier.