Open homage to Joan Crawford in 'Mommy Dearest', or even Joan Collins circa 1985, is something we haven't yet come across this season. Roksanda Ilincic must have had one of them in mind when she designed her latest collection, a slick, chic and sharp homage to the thirties - albeit very much via the eighties - reinvigorated for the here and now. She's been working a defined shoulder for many a season, and for S/S 2010 her quarterback quarterpounder pads were quite simply the broadest and boldest in London town, squaring silk-satin and lamé blouses or chunking out the top of pipecleaner-narrow evening dresses. In liquid black, amethyst or shimmering aquamarine silk charmeuse, these floor-length goddess gowns were sublime - almost good enough, in fact, to silence the niggling doubts over who could ever wear them, and where to. A more interesting and realistic proposal for a contemporary cocktail hour were her nonchalant oversized coat-dresses in muted tones of mint, taupe and black duchesse satin, trimmed in black net and waisted with velvet ribbon - a genuinely new idea for evening alongside her familiar cleaved and boned short frocks. Ilincic has always added something raw to her rarefaction - in the past, the fabric of her demi-couture gowns were left with dangling selvedges and raw seams, but this season she decided to go native. How else to explain heavy metal jewellery recalling Maasai or Yoruba adornment, and Witch Doctor-y voodoo froths of coque-feathers like tribal talismans? The chunky gold bangles and neckpieces were chic, spare and elegant; but to be honest, the feathers got more than a little out of control - bristling around shoes, across peplums and on the hulking hunched shoulders of a finale tuxedo. A towering headdress of black feathers was - as it sounds - just plain silly, and these banal 'Tribal' touches often obscured her increasingly accomplished way with tailoring and dressmaking. More's the pity, as Ilincic's work this season is probably her best yet.
A towering headdress of black feathers was just plain silly, though Ilincic's work this season is probably her best yet.