If Miuccia Prada's latest collection has been heralded as the great return of baroque maximalism to Italian fashion, for God's sake don't tell Peter Dundas. He's been mining that latent strain of fashion extravagance since he began at Pucci four seasons ago, not to mention at Ungaro, Cavalli and stint at Revillon furs before that. Then again, all these houses have a history of extreme, frivolous and luxuriously decorative fashion - maybe Dundas is simply playing to type? Perhaps, given the right post, there's a rigid and pure Minimalist inside Dundas just screaming to get out. Somehow, I doubt it.
For S/S 2011 Dundas continued to follow his singular path at Pucci, and that's what makes his work quite so satisfying. There's a gutsy conviction about Dundas' work, in its blatant, no-holds-barred sex appeal coupled with intricate and vibrant decoration. This time, he gave a gypsy theme the full work-out, but with nary a peasant blouse in sight. In fact, that wasn't quite true: Dundas' version was elongated into an evening gown, in Delft-pattern flouced chiffon or ruffled layers of black lace and openwork stitch. Last season, he reinvented the Pucci print as a neat devore pattern, but this time that openwork embroidery was actually a stunning rendition of the signature swirling Pucci pattern, meandering around the body in complex layers of black on black and slit open over fabulous thigh-high laced boots.
There were quite a few carry-overs from Dundas' stellar winter collection: those long, sinuous silk jersey frocks in peacock-colours came out again, this time in a sun-baked palette of browns, ochre and the occasional flash of rich red. Sometimes, Dundas embellished those Pucci patterns further, crusting them with Indian mirror embroideries following their intricate twists and turns. The prints were less convincing worked into open-front blouses, tugged tight against the figure and worn with low-slung laced-crotch leather hip-huggers and fringed haute hippie bags (another memory of winter). Something got a bit confused somewhere, namely that Dundas thought it would be a good idea to cross-breed hipster and handbad, senging out fringed suede boot-cut trews in black and tobacco tugged over high-heeled sandals. Alas, we're not quite ready for a 2002 revival. Dundas, as I said, had a hefty stint at Cavalli, and these felt far more Roberto than Emilio, ditto the micro macrame swinsuit and lashings of lashed and laced silk pulled tight against the flesh and veering from va-va voom into vulgarity. But they were a momentary slip-up, a rare example example of Dundas cranking up the raunch too far and pushing us too hard, and too fast. For the most part, we teetered on the glorious brink of excess in this collection. You can't blame Dundas for getting over-enthusiastic: with this type of unabashedly luxurious, unashamedly sexy and generally unapologetically glamorous design, giddy euphoria is a natural state both for creator, observer and wearer.