Today’s Sass & Bide show marked the debut outing for the label’s new creative director, Anthony Cuthbertson. A former consultant for Victoria Beckham and Mulberry, Cuthbertson made his second order of business in taking the Sass & Bide helm elevating the clothes, a priority keenly felt in this collection’s focus on embellishment and luxe fabrication. His first order of business, meanwhile, was to locate and extrapolate the brand’s DNA, as he explained after the show. For Cuthbertson, that meant dilating on the brand’s “warrior spirit.” And this collection was very much in the urban-gladiatrix mode.

There were samurai-inspired elements, like obi belts and kimono-like shapes, and nods to armor in the collection’s emphasis on metallic materials and heavy gold and silver embroidery. Cuthbertson conjured some nice pieces—the outerwear was particularly good—but you came away feeling he still had some way to go in reestablishing a distinctive Sass & Bide voice. The closest he came was with the collection’s leggings and fitted knit dresses featuring mosaic-style mirror embroidery. The concept of those pieces felt organic to the brand, but thanks to their undistinguished silhouettes, the execution was a little lacking. Sass & Bide is a tough nut to crack for a newly installed designer; its founders left having defined the brand’s essence but without fully nailing down its aesthetic signatures. Cuthbertson did some yeoman’s work here trying to finish that job. Only time will tell if he’ll get around to completing it.

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