In a move away (but not on) from the eighties extravaganza we've witnessed over the past decade or so, designers seems to be increasingly switching back to a seventies feel for Autumn/Winter 2010. This is certainly the feel Charles Anastase latched onto: check the high-waist, wide-leg flared trousers over towering platforms and screeching Yoko Ono soundtrack - a couple of pairs of Lennon spectacles popped up on the opening models too.
As with the soundtrack, so with the collection: rough, slightly off-key and distinctly dissonant. It was difficult to work out exactly what Anastase wanted us to think: the opening outfits seemed to reference bleak, chic minimalism, with fluid black-on-black dungarees and an almost surgical white maxicoat over white linen bellbottoms and twinned with John Lennon spectacles. There was plenty of colour-on colour - solid, block shades of turquoise, bubblegum pink, white and black were crafted into single-tone outfits. Block was indeed the word for some of the proportions, namely wide-necked jackets that slipped off the models' shoulders, and a searing yellow boucle coat with a clumsy peter pan collar. Clumsy was an adjective that often sprung to mind, one likes to assume intentionally, with raw-edged trousers and unravelling ruffles (a keepsake from spring's ragmonger chic collection). But an aquamarine linen coat with wonky hem and unpressed lapels? How about random patches of off-colour velour that resembled mold spores cultivating rapidly when lazily appliqued onto insipid shades of chiffon? How to relate these to those spare opening numbers? Likewise, how to relate anything to the baroque, multi-layered linen ruffle dress with piecrust-frilled velvet jacket thrown over the top? That looked great, but what was the message?
For many years, Charles Anastase has stood for a Frenchified take on girly dressing - chic pinafore dresses, narrow-shouldered Amelie schoolgirl coats and clunky-chic platform shoes. It's become a mantra for his followers - no shocks, plenty of frocks. With his last few clunky, punky London shows it seems like he's trying to change an already well-established message. Anastase's real challenge seems to be to to decide exactly what he wants to say - and more importantly, how he'll get that across in his collections. This messy show made nothing clearer.