Fashion Report Card: Marc Wows London, Biba Falls Flat

Marc Jacobs won raves in New York, but just how well did his smaller line do? London reviewers were not amazed, but they did love the show. Can Giles Deacon continue his reign as the Brit visionary? Has Gareth Pugh gone off the deep end? And is Biba over?

Marc by Marc Jacobs
Marc Jacobs invaded London to unveil a new store and his latest Marc by Marc collection. The show was "a glorious social spectacle," swooned Style.com, and it featured Sofia Coppola, Zoe Cassavetes, and Selma Blair in the front row — "a rare treat" for London's fashion crowd. All that Hollywood glitz didn't detract from the clothing. WWD noted that Jacobs "ended the week on a laid-back, wonderfully wearable note." Cathy Horyn observed that though "the collection felt a little slack," there were still some sweet pieces, including the wool minidresses, a knit jumpsuit, the fur hoods, and skating boots which made the critic think of Ginger Rogers. Jacobs may have shaken things up with his New York collection, but this line kept to his signature layering and "was less jumbled than in previous Marc outings," Suzy Menkes said. Style.com's Sarah Mower called the collection "supercute and stuffed with lovely accessories." So no raves, but the collection will still sell.

Watch a slideshow of the Marc by Marc Jacobs collection.

Giles Deacon
England's newest prodigal son (sorry, McQueen), was the show to watch this season. Giles Deacon had "some terrific moments" for Horyn, particularly the monstrously oversize sweaters and boleros. The "show was exceptional for its vision," raved Menkes. But Mower disagreed, pointing out that there was, in fact, "no big thrusting vision." WWD loved the outrageous looks but also favored the quiet, day outfits, which seemed to Horyn a "glaring commercial concession." Still, the Times critic did love the "savage beauty" of most of the clothes. And WWD added that the designer's imagination was a "wonder to witness."

Watch a slideshow of the Giles Deacon collection.

Gareth Pugh
You either love his silly antics or hate his pervy clothes. The critics are split on Gareth Pugh's dark, S&M collection featuring see-through plastic. Horyn felt that Pugh was implying something "pervy" but found the structures of his oversize capes and coats "fascinating." Menkes said that Pugh proved he could "cut it" with his vinyl-laden show. The Daily observed that the collection careened "between luxe wearability and the usual outlandishness we've come to expect." WWD called the pale-faced models "creepy-looking." But before Pugh's written off as a clubwear designer with nothing but shock value, Mower cautioned that "the boy is showing promising signs of outgrowing the thrill of being poor and mocked." His fabrics are more luxe and his materials higher-end.

Watch a slideshow of the Gareth Pugh collection.

Christopher Kane
Christopher Kane's collection may have been one of London's triumphs, but it was no easy win. The Daily called it a "riveting collection" of "sci-fi sexiness and medieval toughness." "The level of polish and accomplishment in this collection was precocious," Mower raved. But Horyn found the clothes "derivative." She neither loved nor hated the red velvet minidresses but rather felt that Kane is " too mindful of his fashion references (Azzedine Alaïa) to create anything wholly his own." Where Mower and the Daily see "a star on the rise," Horyn sees lack of originality.

Watch a slideshow of the Christopher Kane collection.

Biba
Resurrecting an iconic brand is never an easy task, and Bella Frued is all too aware of it. After poor reviews last season, the designer's second outing with the label was a little less dire, but still not good. "This make-over just is not working," Menkes declared. The overabundance of references in the program notes made her politely label the collection "eclectic." Mower called the show "amateurish and sloppy" and even found fault with the models. WWD, perhaps generously, called it "a solid if not ground-breaking collection of wares that echoed old-school Biba." But at this point, are mere echoes enough?

Watch a slideshow of the Biba collection.