'It's difficult to talk about French culture to French people' said Charles Anastase backstage after his latest S/S 2011 show, and in a sense this was an explanation not only of his latest show, but the way he thinks about fashion as a whole. Certainly, his collections are fixated on his nationality - his label (the physical tag stitched into his pretty flirty little frocks, that is) resembles a YSL Rive Gauche number from the Seventies, and his own get-up is reminiscent of a wayward schoolboy captured in a French text-book.
This time, it was the blast of Serge Gainbourg on the soundtrack that got him thinking about bringing a slice of his French roots to a London audience. And, after a difficult few seasons delving into grunge and purposefully sloppy and shoddy garments, it was also a return to form. Anastase repeatedly said he was inspired by the idea of doing something happier and less dramatic, and that came across in the clothes, an easy, straightforward bunch of sweet sun-frocks in dotted Swiss cotton, crisply starched and teamed with teetering wooden-soled sandals. Maybe they underlined the slightly Seventies feel of midi hemlines, piecrust Pierrot collars and a blocky caravan curtain print in subdued watercolours.
The move away from angst was refreshing, as was the fact that these looked not only like clothes the Anastase girl would want to wear, but clothes that will actually end up in the shops (previously it seemed something of a chasm between catwalk concept and retail actuality). Those signature schoolgirl coats came out in silver brocade, those sweet narrow-collared frocks in lace-inserted cotton, those giant, face-framing spectacles in black and apple-green under an oversized straw boater. The feeling of lazy, sun-drenched summer days was palpable - and achieving that in a warehouse on a dreary September night in London felt like something special.