LONDON, September 20, 2004 – Watching Giles Deacon's show—headlined by Linda Evangelista, Karolina Kurkova, Eugenia Volodina, and Karen Elson—while glancing at the haute-couture-style program notes ("pheasant feather pencil skirt, jasper pendant"), you had to pinch yourself to remember that this was only a young designer's second collection. This is London, after all, where spotting a supermodel on a runway is about as rare as sighting a unicorn in Hyde Park.
For all the hype surrounding Deacon, it's still too early to say whether or not he's really going anywhere. He may have earned local raves for his seventies-suburban-ladylike vibe, but hardline critics find it impossible to imagine what woman could possibly wear those jazzily striped jacquard suits with the matching 6-inch wedges. Or find an occasion equal to one of his flowing printed scarf dresses or electric-blue sunray-pleated dinner gowns. Some might mutter, too, about the overtones of Vivienne Westwood tailoring—not to mention a smidge of Jean Muir here and quite a lot of pure Stepford Wife cheese there. On the other hand, there's enough that is genuinely odd in Deacon's aesthetic to make it almost grotesquely fascinating. He has a small boy's interest in animals and insects, which crop up in motifs of apes, bees, scorpions, and lizards, or outsize marquetry plaques, which he fashions into vast pendants or bags. All of which provides a certain unsettling undercurrent to the pseudo-glam pastiche. That may not be a bad thing in a season of too much normality. But the jury's still out.