The landmark mid-century photography of Erwin Blumenfeld and the casual American sportswear of Claire McCardell. Could there be a more perfect reference point for the no-frills wardrobe designers have envisaged for next summer? Judging by the terrific, well-judged and timely collection those inspirations engendered from Jonathan Saunders, evidently not.
Clean and slick are terms that already feel well overused for next season (via Phoebe Philo, naturally), but Saunders' collection warrants them like no other. His look has always been about emphatic, simple shape as foil for the best of his print talents, and this was the perfect season for his talent to shine. This season, Saunders' offerings were cool, calm and collected, each piece dovetailing perfectly into the next.
The silhouette was basic Forties WASP, with pencil or full-circle summer frocks, narrow-shouldered blazers, and wide-sleeved blouses tucked into full culottes or neat skater skirts in a handful of fresh fabrics - crisp poplin, billowy chiffon and a neat bolt of aerated net. The slightly retro nostalgia of those summery shapes managed to keep Saunders' look just the right side of minimal, as did the colour - if other designers are bleaching out their palettes for S/S 2011 into pastel, beige and tonnes of white, Saunders decided to pep his prints up. It was exactly the right move - his prints sparkled in bento box-fresh shades of wasabi green, salmon and strident Teriyaki yellow. There was a Japanese feel too to leather and grosgrain belts cinching simple wide-skirted frocks and blazers, and to the graphic Hawaiian hibiscus prints, striking on plain cotton shirt-dresses, but standout on chiffon tents billowing lazily around high-cut bodysuits. Sounds difficult? Every woman in the audience was murmuring how they wanted to wear one as they left - that's how convincing this collection was.