Giles Deacon has saturated himself in the royal history of the Banqueting House in London’s Whitehall.
“I just love historical references,” said the designer, who positioned a gilded, abstract statue of a tree face-up towards the frescoed ceiling.
It acted as a maypole for the models, many of them famous veterans in the fashion world.
The result was an exploration of an updated Elizabethan age, that of Elizabeth I, rather than the current British Queen.
And with that reference, came sleeves. Big sleeves, as white puffs caught in at the wrists under patterned dresses or a ballooning effect near the top of the arms.
When three designers — Jonathan Anderson, Roksanda and now Giles — make shoulders and sleeves a focus, it is definitely a fashion trend. Maybe the look also reflects the 1980s — although those cuts were sharp and angular rather than soft and puffy.
The Giles effect was perfectly wearable as a full sleeved, lightly patterned blouse and soft trousers. And shoulders were sometimes in focus in a different way: because they were bared above dresses with a frill and a high waist.
It is an art to turn historicism into fashion and Giles is rare in having that skill. By the end of the show, theatrical effects took over with model Karen Elson swanning around the golden tree in a dress with Tudor “wings” stretching across her back.
A bold flourish is seldom a bad idea at the end of a show. And this finale was a compliment to a beautiful, wearable and original collection.