JONATHAN SAUNDERS AUTUMN/WINTER 2015-16 READY-TO-WEAR LONDON
“Joy and optimism.” Jonathan Saunders had a little more to say about his new collection, but that was the top line. No surprises there—he has new financing and a huge new studio. He’s managed to fillet out the fat in his organization, and now the Saunders machine is lean, mean, and primed for a glittering future. Which is maybe why he went back to his first collection, back to the well: Allen Jones, Bridget Riley, Victor Vasarely…the artists whose use of color and form originally inspired him. “I was feeding on that and the ideas followed,” Saunders said. “This was my most organic collection.”
Funny that, because at first glance it looked entirely, alluringly synthetic. Saunders’ expertise as a print designer meant that the mechanical effects he achieved with shades and tones were almost three-dimensional. The lines and lozenges definitely had a strong ’60s flavor, like those artists who have influenced him. But prints are just a part of the Saunders story. The rest belongs to a punk manqué sensibility that delights in the perverse and the subversive. Here, it was more studied than before, reflecting, perhaps, a new maturity. “Blade Runner Blues” played on the soundtrack and Jessica Stam, in the last look, might have been auditioning for the role of Rachael the Replicant in an op top and skirt, with a scarf knotted round her throat and trailing down her spine and Louboutin boots laced above the knee. Equally, there was something so ladylike yet racy about her that she could have been Belle de Jour. That’s starting to look like the consummate Saunders ambiguity, and it’s something he clearly treasures. His color combinations argue that for him. Their unflagging oddness meant that, for all his talk of optimism, there was also something a little dour—Glaswegian, perhaps—about them. The brown, in particular. Brown! But sit it beside a Saunders green or red and it made sense.