Remember Jacqueline de Ribes, dressed to excess eighties pop couture and Tom Wolfe's 'Social X-Rays' in ruffled, stiffened and fleshily padded cocktail frocks? Evidently Roksanda Ilincic does as she could have dedicated her Autumn/Winter collection to each and any one of them. This season, Roksanda loves a bit of ruff - frills, flounces and firm wings of fabric extended from shoulders, hems and sleeve heads up, off and out. They were a dramatic choice, and one that took Ilincic's deconstructed couture ethos in the right direction - namely, a cleaner, meaner and altogether sharper one. Gone were her unfinished, unravelling hems and exposed selvedges: in their place, lace overlays across the back of dresses, swathing shoulders and smothering the inside of those exaggerated jabots were a leitmotif, with sometimes just chantilly sheathing bare flesh. After last season's softer look, this collection returned to construction, with stiff, popped peplums, box-cut sleeves and ovoid panniers abstracting away from the body. Eighties couture again came to the fore in a series of metallic matelassé crocodile brocades (yes, seriously), crystal-encrusted Krystle Carrington shoulders on a strictly cut power-suit, and a few sherbet-satin evening dresses. But here Ilincic's mood for deconstruction reared its head, pulling these simple column-dresses off-kilter with misplaced darts, asymmetrical necklines and a wayward lace-smothered shoulderpad or two. These were intriguing subversions, as if a provincial dressmaker had cack-handedly copied an haute couture original and got it dreadfully wrong. It's difficult to interpret that as a compliment, but it is intended as such, and it's that wry eye that keeps Ilincic's increasingly refined work from becoming too saccharine.
After last season's softer look, this collection returned to construction; Ilincic's mood for deconstruction reared its head.