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.”
Like Laduree aliens Prada’s models took to the catwalk – a beautiful collection that had a strong, clear and young message, and Sixties vibes but brought right up to date.
It was all about the combinations: the jarring colours that went from fondant to salmon pink, pea green, mustard and teal, all in one look from prim collar to contrasting brooch, from jacket to trouser.
It was a mouth-watering palette with just as much mouth-watering decoration and detail. There was the sheer prettiness of pink empire line dresses that fell somewhere between a Regency or Victorian coming-out-ball number and something from a sweet sixteen, combined with bedazzling jewels in the hair which then worked their way, super-sized, onto inserts in petal-shaped skirts, as morphing floral brooches or traversed a mink bow that perched at the shoulder and navigated its way to a hem. It was the caricature of prim, pretty and proper – handbags, gloves, little fur collars, Mary-Jane shoes, jacket and skirt combinations.
But so that you didn’t overindulge in all things too sweet, Mrs Prada pulled out those little stylistic details to prevent it all from getting too saccharine, too Dolly Mixture. Those rubber shoes that were a wellington-trainer hybrid; the neoprene and printed tweed; that mean hair by Guido Palau – that was all typical Prada. A style spoke among the wheel and just what we look to her for. There were instantly buyable and bankable looks here.
Next season “ladylike chic” as it’s so often dubbed gets amplified, a smothered brooch approach to dressing will be de rigueur, as will matching your bitesize sandwiches your clothes just as Prada so kindly did for us here pre-show. Simply put: yum.