Every once in a while a brand just needs to stop what it’s doing and start over. That is exactly what Sass and Bide has done. Without getting into the details of what went wrong, what matters now is that this afternoon’s reboot with new creative director Anthony Cuthbertson got the Australian label back to London Fashion Week, where it hasn’t been for three years, and off on a good start toward what we all hope is a promising future.

Without meaning any disrespect to Sass and Bide’s founders, Cuthbertson had a lot of work to do in re-making a brand that had somewhat gone over the edge. 15 years doesn’t give one a huge catalog from which to pull, so much of what we saw today was a whole new look for the brand, an entirely new direction from where it has been before. Fortunately, Cuthbertson’s experience at other major fashion houses gives him a strong sense of what works, and he put that experience to good use with today’s presentation

Leather was front and center for today’s collection, taking up some manner of presence in almost every piece from coats to dresses to leggings (of which there were plenty). The effect ranged from biker chic to shiny and glamorous. While the leather probably works best in more casual looks, Cuthbertson manages to work it sufficiently into places where it’s not expected and still maintain a sense of practicality to the whole thing.

Coats were another significant part of this collection and from the very beginning one gets the feeling Cuthbertson gave the outerwear every bit as much attention as he did the ensembles beneath them. They ranged in color from black to white to gold, in size from very long to rather short, and from plain to heavily embellished. While not every look had a coat, it was obvious that great care was taken to provide a sufficient number of coats so as to address most any situation.

There is definitely a harder edge to this collection than one finds in the standard British fare; the looks are more likely to appeal to an Australian audience than London, and I think the line could sell well here in the States. The leggings and level of embellishment are a bit too much for those with more reserved tastes. Yet, with a name like Sass and Bide, one can’t expect the clothes to not have some bite to them and Cuthbertson has likely hit on a good balance point so as to provide a strong start. Look through the collection and most every woman  is likely to find a couple of choices that match her lifestyle. With a broadened appeal and solid styling, we should see Sass and Bide begin to grow again.

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