"Cute utilitarianism" is the tag Luella Bartley gave her punk-y, schoolgirl-y, military look, which was marched out by a gang of girls who seemed to be going to the prom via junior cadet corps. If it was less clashingly bright than her outstanding Summer collection, it was just as assured and detailed (this time with lots of gold zips, buttons, and hook-and-eye fastenings), and essentially based around the same template of short dresses and neat little suits that won her British Designer of the Year last November.
"Building a brand" can sound like a dull and onerous mission these days, especially for a junior-focused designer who came out of London's free and easy years. Yet that's exactly what Bartley is proving herself capable of now. There's value for money in each of her outfits, from all the patchworking of contrasting fabrics that goes on in a single piece (a dress might be made up of a polka-dot top fused to a draped bustier, connected to a wool skirt) down to the Confederate caps and fur pompoms on the toes of her pumps. The sense of continuity shows an impressive business focus, but even better, somehow, is the way Bartley will also break into a bit of gold lamé to keep things "up."
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