Kiki Georgiou reports on the Jonathan Saunders show
By the time his last model walked past the hall of mirrors at a dark edge of the Tate Modern, Saunders emerged a victor. This was a collection that changes how we feel about fashion, and its washing machine cycle of trends that are starting to fade.
To use and abuse a Virginia Woolf quote, at or about 20:30GMT on September 16th 2012 Jonathan Saunders changed. Print is dead, long live the print King! Let's not forget Saunders was one of the first London designers to take print to the next level, with his wonderful eye for colour and pattern. But like the true modernist that he is he went looking for the new and that's a journey that often breaks many. By the time his last model walked past the hall of mirrors at a dark edge of the Tate Modern, Saunders emerged a victor. This was a collection that changes how we feel about fashion, and its washing machine cycle of trends that are starting to fade. He has kindred spirits in Marc Jacobs (if Jacobs did stripes in New York, Saunders gave them a disco ball shine) and Miuccia Prada. Be the first to take the plunge into the new, see where it can take you.
The opening look said it all. A nude skin-tight top tucked in a silver metallic skirt, its shine catching the light. And from the back? Contrasting black, uniting skirt and top. No excess decoration for decoration's sake. It was a palette cleanser, a sartorial amuse-bouche. An iridescent silver bomber jacket that soon followed, worn over a crisp white dress, raindrop pattern embossed, had 'buy me' written all over it and so did the easy separates that followed. Saunders jokes he only discovered separates a while ago (it was all about the dress prior to that lightbulb moment) and his legion of fans, who rely on his tailoring and cosy and cool knitwear will find plenty to love here. The raindrop pattern, resembling scales of an exotic skin, was the main focus and it worked both on a white shift dress and a more sensuous black spaghetti-strap dress and embellished in wine red and apple green. And knitwear came in the shape of a gorgeous red cardigan and tube skirt sequinned to the front, grey jersey at the back.
Saunders has always had a soft spot for the Seventies, not the early hazy hippy years but the later wild ones and the bias cut jersey dresses would have looked great on the dance floor at Studio 54. But when Vivaldi's Spring started playing the stripes walked out and it all came together, showcasing the new that Saunders was looking for and making it so right for now. If you were sitting in the audience dressed in head-to-toe floral print you'd have felt silly. Green vertical stripes on a silver shimmery shift dress and immediately after horizontal and diagonal on a fantastic green jacket and skirt. A powder blue dress, iridescent stripes speeding across the body, the neckline low (undo your buttoned-up shirts, ladies, let your skin breathe) would have stolen the show if the final sequinned dresses hadn't showed up. You could only have fun in that green, black and grey slip of a thing and long-sleeved closing one, fitted with the ease of a t-shirt but oh, so precious. And Saunders had fun in mind. There was something optimistic about that music playing us out. Spring is coming, it said. And with it, the new.