Does Jonathan Saunders have an undiagnosed smidgin of seasonal affective disorder? He should get it checked out - it may explain his Autumn/ Winter 2010 collection. For winter, Saunders latched onto the gym-couture sportswear feeling that was such a feature last season, and has been emerging in dribs and drabs of details throughout this one. He also caught on to the recent taste for pastel colour, for mesh transparency through perforated fabrics, and a touch of the underwear-as-outerwear in the cagelike bodice of the opening thick-strapped summer dress.
That summarises the issues with this collection - namely that Saunders seemed to follow others rather than making up his own mind, and that this collection had an inexplicable but undeniable summery slant. Models shivered down the catwalk in skimpy, sleeveless dresses, diaphanous cream chiffon, and paper-bag waist full skirts and short zipped bomber jackets punched through with laser-cut fretwork. The pastel palette too seemed oddly summery, and strangely reminiscent of Saunders' last collection, likewise the slashes of neon-red contrasting with white and palest aquamarine - a fresh colour combination indeed, but for winter? We were on firmer ground with rich teal and black as contrast to those pastels, likewise when those sportswear details became true sportswear. A pair of oversized parkas shrugged over those narrow dresses were casually chic, but just a little bit rugged - in tune with winter 2010, then.
It was easy but slightly unsettling to see literal quotes of the 1990s work of Helmut Lang in Saunders' show. Those pops of neon colour contrasted with white or laid under transparent fabric were highly reminiscent of his mid-decade experimentation, as were the plasticised prints on woollen coats, sweatshirts and knitted silk vests, occasionally cracked and distressed along creases (another trademark). Those utilitarian sportswear references were typical Lang - in fact, this whole collection was an ode to his work. In that respect, it was bang on the money, as Lang's crisp minimalism is undoubtedly a major factor behind this season's big clean-up. But did it need to be reiterated quite so often, and quite so loudly? For the vast majority of this show, it was impossible to see past the giant quotation marks hanging, like the sword of Damocles, over every other look.