“It’s colourful angst!” explained Jonathan Saunders as he stood in front of his Lego-like installation of models in 80s hot pinks, plastic bag yellows and angry reds. Taking a note from pikey gangs and their customary attire, Saunders was inspired by taking something disposable and elevating it: “their trashy tracksuits were still so beautiful, so sophisticated.” You have to give it to Saunders, for what could easily have been a recipe for disaster – shiny red and green satin, super low-V necks, dotty trousers and blazer-over-tracksuit combos – in his hands takes on a state-of-the-art pulp aesthetic, suiting the brand’s loyal clientele to a T.
The theme of juxtaposition ran the other way too, with precious and expensive elements ruined and debased, like the elegant wallpaper gaudily-coloured and bleached in strips, creating an anime comic-book effect across bombers and trousers. That, along with glitter and vinyl strips, checkerboard patterns and thick black accents running down sleeves and lapels, made the collections a playbox of opportunity to mix and match the kitsch and trashy, and yet inevitably end up looking impeccable. Thus is the magic of Saunders, defined by his consistent ability of turning fun, transgressive ideas into covetable separates that are still pieces from the same puzzle. They all but spoke for themselves, standing in contrast to the cavernous industrial setting of The Old Sorting office like a kaleidoscopic tableau and drawing onlookers effortlessly across the vast space. Vibrant and unafraid, their magnetism perfectly illustrated the designer’s golden touch.