And so, with one collection Jonathan Saunders recalibrated his design career.
The first exit arrived with power and grace, an embellished black, cropped trouser, fitted underneath a black crombie coat, it was a confident first salvo for a spring collection; a statement that these clothes were operating on a season free plane, almost too arch to be bound by the rule book of seasonality, one that’s becoming increasingly outmoded.
The black look cleansed the palette beautifully and a lesson in the art of sartorial balance followed. Feminine met masculine as sweet summer tops decorated with one gathered fabric bow (the bowing and tying continued throughout in a riff on origami) were paired with tailored city shorts. Skirts were full, mid length and gathered: “It was very much about the design process and then that confident femininity that is really close to my heart, he said.”
Almost every piece had a sense of occasion, Saunders created a gentle pause half way through the show with a simple gold sheath dress. He then began flexing his instinct for texture with deep ruching on skirts and dresses.
“I worked with the most incredible Japanese mill,” he said, “on creating fabrics. A sense of lightness was the most important thing to me.”
Delicate cotton, sheath-thin shifts were printed with paper that had been painted with colour, a technique Saunders learnt at University. The Japanese influence was clear; and it felt like new territory for Saunders, even the palette of brown and camel was unexpected. This was clever, esoteric but not so much it wasn’t totally wearable. It was elevated, yet it was aspirational. And the show music? Rousing strings from the soundtrack to the Sci-Fi horror Under the Skin, and this collection did just that.
MARY KATRANTZOU’S digital prints – the thing that set her brand alight in 2009 – should, by now, be but a distant memory. She broke away from them last autumn (they had reached saturation point – it was a well-timed call) with a collection of beautifully embroidered column gowns, and this season she continued along that path – and then some.
What she presented was so highly worked, it’s extraordinary to fathom that she has only been in business for five or so years.
That theme was played out here this, on a lava-like runway of glistening, black rubber rocks. The idea translated to shifting fabrics, which were pulled away to create floating islands of coverage on the body, revealing and concealing against a nude sheer background. The simplest example of that manifested in a pair of roomy sandstone-coloured silk trousers with sheer tulle tux stripes – but what happened next developed into a catalogue of work that looked like it came straight out of a Paris couture atelier.
What she did with a mannish cornflower blue shirt was nothing short of sensational. She kept the body and collar and created a fantasy of guipure lace around it. Lean in closer and you’ll spot albatross, iguanas, and other imagined prehistoric creatures, hybrids of sea and land. Pewter and khaki lace dresses were a romantic interplay of layers and luxurious sheer textures, some kicked out in precision knife pleats, others had camisole tops or were layered in sheer baby doll slips and trimmed in seed bead panels that looked like mounds of glistening caviar.
What these creations will sell for will be anyone’s guess (no doubt, upwards of sky high) but those who can afford it won’t think twice about buying a piece of it. It was stand out, feminine, extremely desirable and it added up to her most accomplished collection to date.
IT’S not just Vivienne Westwood who works the campaign trail onto her catwalk – Kenzo’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim are doing their bit to save the planet too. They were reminding us that there is just one planet, no back-up, no plan B. “Protect what is precious” was their instruction.
On the catwalk and there wasn’t necessarily an obvious sustainable conversation but there was an ongoing one with their penchant for skatewear – maxed out, in fact, when it came to proportions. Skater trousers came supremely baggy and palazzo style, shirts big too and shapes mostly enveloping – but in something of a surprisingly serene way. And that was down to the colour palette: pinks, mauve, icy blue, white and white.
But while the collection started out in those skate roots, it soon escalated into something altogether more polished from this duo. Still youthful, still energetic but elegant suddenly became an adjective that hopped into their fashion vocabulary.
If J.W. Anderson’s own collection in London was surprisingly, pleasingly straightforward, his catwalk debut at Loewe suggested why. All that wayward J.W. action had gone south, to Loewe’s headquarters in sunny Spain. Yes, sunny. Instead of the somewhat heavy, leathery Loewe those who know the brand might be familiar with, there were the Balearic lightness and sensuality that Anderson began to explore with his men’s collection for the house. At first glace, the Isamu Noguchi garden at the UNESCO building where the show was staged might have seemed the very antithesis of those notions. But step back, check the sculptural stones and benches, and you could have been in the rocky fabulosity of Formentera. And that’s where Anderson was taking us, to somewhere physical and primal. A sheath in the honey-toned suede Loewe calls “oro” was decked with random applications of hide, a 21st-century Wilma Flintstone. Right behind it, something black, bowed at the waist, with a handful of suede samples dangling from its yoke. Precision and chaos—the kind of dialogue Anderson cherishes in his work.
The primal, organic nature of the collection asserted itself in the knots of a cotton tank laid over a navy skirt with brutal diagonal slashes, or in a raw silk knit tank over huge white linen pants. There was an appealingly wayward imprecision to such pieces. But the other half of the collection was something else altogether: high-waisted leather trousers in a rainbow of colors, tied judo-style at the waist. Anderson had imagined them crisscrossing on his complex set in a pleasurable blur. He wasn’t wrong. And their leatheriness underscored just why Loewe makes such an appropriate, if peculiar, fit for Anderson. He is fascinated by skin. Here, there was a trench in oro that was simply gorgeous. Less so, the latex tees perversely printed with a game-bird graphic from the Loewe archive. But, as Anderson pointed out, that was a kind of skin, too.