Ruffles, underwear-as-outerwear and pastel-plastered femininity. It's already become a tired cliche for next spring. The only designers, indeed, who could possibly revive our interests in these notions are Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, whose slant on these conventions of girlie dressing could always be relied on to be less than clean-cut. That's not to say V&R didn't work those stereotypes to the bone - after all, if there's one thing they love, it's a good gimmick. Hence, the collection opened with ruffles - hyperactive, overblown, out-of-control ruffles enveloping the singer Roisin Murphy in what amounted to a trapeze-line tutu as she performed. The first outfits were all about the ruffles, errupting into giant shoulders, bristling around jackets and frothing at the hems of skirts. Maybe this was all about petticoats, about exposing the innards of the various looks - it certainly seemed that way in the collection's unabashed highlights, a series of massed tulle New Look-style ballgowns, with skirts carved away in chunks to reveal compacted layers of net within. Most extraordinary was an aquamarine ballgown diced across the thigh, leaving full skirt and fluffed hip intact. Showstoppers aside, it wasn't all crowd-pleasing. The underwear as outerwear looks were perhaps too saccharine-sweet, with chantilly lace eating through silk-satin camiknickers and pyjamas in sorbet shades of pistachio, vanilla and rose. The trouble with this underwear as outerwear was that, rather than drawing on the conventions of lingerie for a frisson of sexual suggestion, it simply looked like insubstantial underpinnings - and there was undoubtedly too much of it peppered through the collection. Perhaps this was an attempt to show a wearable core alongside Horsting and Snoeren's more esoteric elaborations? If so, the boys shouldn't have worried. Within three outfits, Viktor and Rolf showed us how to commercialise that milles-feuille idea: from giant ruffle-packed showpiece tuxedo, to extreme editorial ruffled frock to an eminently saleable cocktail dress spliced with mere vestiges of those extraneous jabots at the seams. It may be the theatrics that brought out the cheers at the show, but it'll be these pieces that keep the tills ringing.
Most extraordinary was an aquamarine ballgown diced across the thigh, leaving full skirt and fluffed hip intact.