By  on February 19, 2008

From pleated blouses and pencil skirts to sweater dresses with overscaled cables, London fashion had its discreet — and indiscreet — charms.

Graeme Black: Graeme Black's runway debut for his own line was inspired by the designs of William Morris and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Black, who spent years working behind the scenes at Armani and Ferragamo, sent out a trunkful of great-looking tailored pieces, including tartan pencil skirts in muted tones, fitted crocodile jackets, alligator waistcoats and gray tweeds shot through with small squares of cobalt blue. But it wasn't all about strict silhouettes: There were also pleated jersey dresses and dove gray ruffle-front organza blouses worn over matching wool skirts.

Julien Macdonald: Baby, it's cold outside. But no matter how far that mercury drops, some ladies will always know how to keep warm. Fox? Mink? Weasel? Julien Macdonald had stacks of it, in the shape of tunics, minis, sleeveless vests and swingy coats. But this fun, youthful collection wasn't all about the superrich on the block. There were piles of his signature luscious knits and woolens, too. The designer sent out cable-knit sweater dresses, tunics and jackets in addition to neat, double-breasted wool coats in shades of saffron and navy. For evening, however, the collection took Macdonald's usual glitzier turn, with short black dresses dripping with big, chunky sequins or feathers that had been brushed in gold leaf: looks for the gal who wants to make a splash everywhere from Knightsbridge to Moscow.

Peter Jensen: For fall, Peter Jensen was inspired by "Nuts in May," Mike Leigh's 1976 television play about an English camping trip. His models, for instance, disappeared into tents at the end of the runway. But when it came to the clothes, the designer wove in the references with a lighter touch: The countryside was there in a tiered, cream silk skirt printed with burnished fall leaves, a moss green puff-ball party dress layered with black taffeta and a silvery lamé coat that nodded to campers' foil blankets. There were some glam pieces that echoed the Seventies themselves, too, such as a yellow satin top with a knife-pleated collar.Mulberry: Mulberry's girl embraced her kooky side in a bright, breezy presentation that showcased the talents of Stuart Vevers and the brand's new footwear designer, Jonathan Kelsey. The ready-to-wear collection was eye-poppingly bright, with vast, shaggy, lipstick-red Tibetan lambskin coats; lemon yellow minidresses, and rhubarb-toned, fake fur bomber jackets. Shrunken, charcoal-colored cashmere cardigans worn over bright minidresses offered an essential bit of contrast. Bags came in a rainbow of shades, too: There were tangerine patent clutches, royal blue ponyskin shoulder bags and oversize lizard holdalls in raspberry and bright blue. There was some bold footwear from Kelsey, including flat, lace-up shoes in fuchsia suede and sexy knee-high riding boots.

Allegra Hicks: This dark, romantic — and ultraglamorous — collection was heavy on velvet, fur and earthy tones of eggplant, chocolate and charcoal. There were thigh-length evening jackets fashioned from alternating strips of fur and metallic fabric; knee-length dresses with cutout shoulders and pleated fronts, and floaty maxidresses cinched with wide gold corset belts. Even Allegra Hicks' staples — such as jersey day dresses and coats — had a sexy edge, with details such as ultralow necklines, draped bell sleeves or metallic flourishes.

Unconditional: Philip Stephens' fall collection was inspired by the bored aristos of "Gosford Park," right down to its props, which included dusty library books and a live Chihuahua that various models cradled during the show. Stephens' palette was mostly black and gray, punctuated by a variety of reds. As for the silhouettes, the designer kept them simple, and the result was such relaxed, elegant looks as bias-cut burnt red silk slips, pleated silk skirts worn with wraparound silk blouses and billowing terra-cotta silk day dresses with smocking across the front.

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