Giles Deacon has always had an eye for a finicky couture detail - every show, since his first own-label effort five years ago - has been packed with the kind of ambitious, handcrafted touches you normally only see in Paris. It is fitting, therefore, that for S/S 2010 Deacon has upped sticks (with a little help from the 150,000 Euro ANDAM prize) to show in Paris. Perhaps this marriage of the raw (Giles) and the rarefied (Paris) trigged the inspiration for this collection: Cavegirl Couture. Think Wilma Flintstone goes to a sixties couture show and drops a tab of acid and you have the general gist. Beasty textures of leopard jacquard clashed with tulle shredded as if chewed by a wooly mammoth, slits in sophisticated knee-length pencil skirts grew stegasaurus fins, and short dresses were gathered and ruched like neolithic rock-forms. Render this in the refined, firm fabrics and clean shapes of early Yves Saint Laurent, and drop a few acidic shots of fluoro pink, searing yellow and orange, and you have the look Deacon was going for. It was a crazy mix - but that's what Giles has become known for. Broken down, there was plenty that his fans will like, not least his ever-wacky eveningwear (sheaths in iridescent ruched animal-print devore and a neat way with a whip-stitched leather cavegirl frock) walking just the right side between witty pastiche and fashion victim parody. Alas, the tightrope balance between the sublime and ridiculous is ever difficult, and in this collection Giles wavered more than once into decidedly dodgy territory. Taste-twisting forays into fondant metallic leather for trouser and shift dresses were forgivable, but characters from the Disney dinosuar classic 'The Land Before Time' - reinvented as infantile applique motifs or three-dimensional beanie-baby satchels with all the charm of a diaper-bag - have no place on a supposedly grown-up Paris catwalk. This highlighted another, more deep-rooted problem with Giles' collection: it all looked terribly British, in both a positive and pejorative sense. The quirky themes, unusual fabrics and inventive styling tricks (think fluoro clothes-pegs and metallic bulldog clips as hair accessories) screamed London - and presumably that injection of innovation was one of the reason Giles was invited to show in Paris in the first place. On the other hand, the collection lacked the polish, the finesse, indeed sometimes just the professionalism demanded of a key on-schedule player in the undisputed capital of international fashion. The question remains: is Giles actually at that level? Or is he being encouraged to run before he can truly walk? A few pieces in this collection marked out his increasing sophistication, most notably the bobble-surfaced knits crafted into a crusty, earthy skirt and top and stretched into a sensational strapless frock. When Giles' eveningwear hit its stride - namely in a slick, ergonomically-darted frock with reptillian serration outlining the zip and a twisted, froth-topped sheath of black silk taffeta - it looked far better than anything he's shown in London (no bodged seams or wonky hems chez Deacon). Alas, these do not a collection make, and even to a audience packed with British supporters, the vast majority of this clunky in-joke of a show didn't make the grade.
Perhaps this marriage of the raw (Giles) and the rarefied (Paris) trigged the inspiration for this collection: Cavegirl Couture.