Peter Jensen may be Danish, but he's a quintessential London designer: witty, irreverent and immensely talented. That was why it was such a joy to see him back on the London schedule. Especially appropriate, it seems, Jensen's return from jaunts in New York coincides with his label's tenth anniversary. Theres a retrospective at the Copenhagen Design Museum to celebrate that fact, as well as a tome examining his first decade, but Jensen didn't allow his vision to become clouded by too many glances in the rear-view mirror.
His presentation format was perfectly geared to Jensen's quietly subversive collection - models walking a nose away from the audience, the only background a pianist tinkling jazz live in the corner. This season, as ever, Jensen's show was inspired by and titled after a singular female. Nina Simone was his heroine, in private and in performance, for a collection that yielded a fresh angle on the mid-century couture shapes we've seen popping up all over.
Jensen's point, as usual, was to knock the stuffing and stuffiness out of those shapes. That's something he's done throughout his career, and if critics gave sometimes questioned how catwalk-worthy his collections are, in a season of increasingly overwrought collections that felt like a breath of fresh air. Jensen distiller Simone's style into neat Broiderie Anglaise tailoring, daisy-strewn cocktail frocks and some knockout tailoring in postcard-print mountain scenes bordered in piano keys. That was a hint at Simone's stage presence, underlined by granny-luxe touches of lurex-threaded knitwear and a few bubble-skirted cocktail dresses, sometimes in leopard or a jacquard derived from television static.
As with Jensen's very best collections, for spring/summer 2012 the heroine and the clothing were inextricably tied-up. Neither shouted for attention, but each informed the other. It was a quietly, calmly virtuoso performance even the irascible Simone would no doubt gave appreciated.