The pop architect Robert Venturi once said, “Less is a bore,” and Jonathan Saunders’s latest collection was a no-holds barred homage to living an amplified life in optimistic technicolor.
Saunders has recently secured investment in his brand, and although most of this collection must have been designed before the cash injection had landed, this was a case of art imitating life; if “life” is sweet and “art” is unfettered joy, that is.
His latest was a complete departure from his last collection. The spring/summer 2015 offering was introspective, conceptual even, and yes, Saunders could be critiqued for inconsistency from one season to the next, but he isn’t interested in repetition and his true talent lies within his ability to shape-shift. Saunders is a generous designer. His collections are offered up with an open vulnerability. If his designs had a catch phrase it would be, “Take me as you find me”, and as such this collection was unmistakably him.
There was that trademark, tense duality between the formalist and the fetishist; the dresses with bracelet sleeves and high-funnel necklines had a prim restraint which was twisted with lace-up, over-the-knee kinky boots. Colour wise this was an ode to outré. The op-art prints were varied and clashing, riffing on a modish Sixties swish. Saunders had been inspired by the artists which he referenced at the beginning of his career: the pop art of Allen Jones and Bridget Reily.
The sound track to the show was George Michael’s Careless Whisper. “I love that song, it makes me happy,” he said backstage. “I went back to thinking about why we do what we do, why I design, and look at my face,” he said, backstage. “I’m happy, that’s what this collection is about. Optimism.”