Sophia Kokosalaki: Gone are the days of twisty fabrics, spiderweb knits and impossibly transparent fabrics. Kokosalaki has taken on a more subtle, chic and refined mantle as her collection proved Tuesday night. The knits were almost weightless, draping across arms and torsos or gathered into a few narrow pleats across the front of loose-fitting dresses and turtleneck sweaters. Gossamer skirts were folded into small pleats, while coppery dresses hugged the body and draped downward from the waist. “I wanted to keep this collection wearable,” said Kokosalaki backstage after the show. “This season I saw a positive, optimistic woman, strong but not aggressive.” And who wouldn’t feel strong wearing a cropped vest lined with black fur and covered in flower-shaped metal buttons? Who wouldn’t walk with a certain swagger after tossing a shrunken sailor jacket over a lightweight knit dress?

Giles: Giles Deacon, the man responsible for launching Bottega Veneta’s hard-edged ready-to-wear in the pre-Gucci Group days, is back on the fashion front. Deacon is a hometown boy and returned to the runway with his 80-piece Giles collection, which showed Monday evening in the Great Hall — now the dining room— of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea. Citing Bill Blass and Ziggy Stardust as inspiration, he started with strong tailoring. A silvery gray tweed dress and trumpet skirt were jazzed up with silver leather piping and kick pleats, the latter topped by a satin bow blouse in deep amethyst. Soft gray cashmere was cut into sharp peplum jackets with exaggerated lapels, and paired with either softly pleated silk skirts or wide-legged trousers — just the kind of thing a lady would love to lunch in. A black Art Deco-inspired dress with kimono sleeves and heavy gold trim and a cashmere trompel’oeil dress were equally stunning.

It’s when Deacon turned to evening, though, that things got trickier. Pretty abstract flora and fauna prints were made up into blousy high-necked dresses, which were too sack-like to sizzle, and one ultra-Gothic cape had menacing crystal spikes adorning its shoulders. “This collection is not about a stick-thin, 17-year-old girl,” said Deacon last Saturday night during an interview in his studio in the East End. “I can really imagine women wearing it.” And so can we, especially if Deacon starts exercising some restraint, and learns to emphasize his softer side.Clements Ribeiro: The best thing about London designers is the way they can channel the city’s eccentric style in their collections, and Suzanne Clementgs and Inacio Ribeiro are no exceptions. After a couple of seasons of playing it safe yet pretty, they took us to a madcap Forties circus for fall that thrilled. It was all in the mix, a polkadot and floral patchwork slipdress with a fox wrap; a circus-print skirt with a skeleton intarsia sweater; a fluffy citrus fox jacket belted over a skirt appliquéd with pearly buttons. For the diva, a pintucked dress with floral lamé panels sparkled, and the ingenue wore a pale chiffon ballerina dress with little patches she might have sewed in herself. Striped knit dresses, a coat with huge ribbon-embroidered flowers, and a leopard-printed circle skirt were also fun under the big top.

Gibo: At last Julie Verhoeven has left behind the eye-searing colors and often heavy-handed motifs of seasons past and turned out a whimsical — and more sophisticated — collection. There were fluttery silk dresses covered in violins and girlie face prints drawn in Verhoeven’s own deft hand, as well as draped and cutout jersey dresses, some suspended from butterfly-winged harnesses. Neat riding jackets and gold velvet coats gave the girlie collection a tailored edge.

Meanwhile, in other news, Gibo’s eponymous parent company will be opening a 32,400-square-foot showroom in Milan on via Ortles, starting with the spring 2005 season. The showroom will house the lines manufactured by Gibo and also serve as a venue for runway shows.

Nicole Farhi: For every warrior out there, there’s a damsel in distress — and Nicole Farhi knows just where to find her. The designer sent out an ultrafeminine collection of sexy satin dresses with scooped backs and flower-petal details, all in a jewel-toned palette. “I was feeling very romantic, and wanted something seductive,” said Farhi after the show. “I wanted to play around with rose petals, chiffon and wanted a burst of color to wake us all up in winter.” Indeed, the wool raspberry trenchcoat would take the edge off any dark London day, while Farhi’s bright green and pink tourmaline velvet skirts are bound to make a gal want to kick up her heels.Paul Smith: “The show is about clothes people can wear — not just catwalk looks,” said Paul Smith backstage at the Royal Horticultural Halls. “In the past, we’ve been criticized for putting too many ideas out there, so we decided to do one strong look this season.” So the designer pared down his runway show to just a basic idea. The collection, inspired by a seaport teeming with sailors, maritime masters and commanders— and the occasional Siren — was full of straightforward, wearable and highly commercial peacoats, navy blue sweater jackets, swingy car wash skirts and fluttery black silk dresses printed with red and yellow. Meanwhile, Smith’s spring sales are roaring ahead, with January sell-throughs at 10 percent and reorder requests already in the hopper.

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