“Cecil Beaton was Andy Warhol before Andy Warhol, really,” says Giles Deacon, who cited both the photographer and his pop-art predecessor as key inspirations for his Spring 2012 collection. “He had the best kind of access to the most amazing celebrities, movie people and artists,” added the designer backstage after the show. The influence of Deacon’s favorite Beaton photograph, Symphony in Silver (1925), which depicts the photographer’s sister, Baba, dressed head-to-toe in the hue, as well as Warhol’s “Silver Clouds,” was hard to miss in the fringed and laser-cut leather looks and a runway that rivaled the tinseled glory of Warhol’s Factory.
The swan served as another essential motif, literally and figuratively—high-volume retro party dresses in silver and a fleshy pink, as well as gowns that bloomed with ostrich plumes, would have suited any of Beaton’s or Warhol’s favorite glitzy birds. An abstracted swan print appeared on structured silk dresses, waist-cinching skirts and a pair of gowns. And the kicker, a trio of Stephen Jones swan headdresses in white, black, and red, the last of whose head was cocked as though it was going to gore the front row, embodied the collection’s spirit of fleeting glamour and excess. When asked about the significance behind the colors of his Swarovski-embellished fowl, which were paired with a matching white suit, a sheer black top and tux pants, and a red-feather gown respectively, the designer said, “The white one is kind of coquettish, the black one is a bit more angst-y, and the red one is more aggressive, so human nature, I suppose.” He added, “[Swans] are just very elegant. They’ve got amazing colors, amazing movement, and they can be quite savage. It seemed a lovely place to research from.” His theatrical looks were all of the above.