The industrial look of concrete and floor to ceiling mirrored wall setting of the Tate Modern museum in London was the perfect backdrop for Jonathan Saunders’s reflective and streamlined show. The stark setting accentuated the designer’s focus on iridescent fabrics, graphic prints and curvy color blocking, making them pop off the catwalk.
The show started with an outfit that consisted of an iridescent sliver knee length pencil skirt and bi-color second skin top that was beige on the front and black at the back. It looked both modern and futuristic -making a clear statement about what this collection was about. By keeping the shapes of his clothing clean and uncomplicated, Saunders was able to play with opposites in terms of the fabrics and embellishments and then enhance their differences through the use of graphic patterns- in particular a retro looking teardrop honeycomb design.
Sometimes this would mean that a skirt, in that teardrop pattern, would be crafted out of patent leather pieces on the front which would then melt into a straight-up print version at the back to create a textural tension. Other times the concept would be played out in a matte and shine design on a dress that looked as if it rippled as the models moved down the catwalk or more subtly the pattern would emerge as just an hint of an outline on a pristine white trench coat.
That pattern would appear again, blown up in size, on a series of outfits that shaded from dark to light as it worked its way to the center of the ensemble which gave them style a slightly 70’s vibe. But this pattern, although the dominant one of the show, was not the only vehicle the designer used to play out his experimentation with opposites. Vertical, horizontal and chevron lines in iridescent strips also added energy to a group of outfits cut from matte fabrics.
But besides bringing together matte and shine, opaque and shear, and hard and soft fabrics, Saunders experimented with an echo technique via curvy color block outfits. The connection will be hard to spot when the show is broken up into pieces curated by buyers for their stores, but on the catwalk the link was easy to see. First, the curvaceous colors showed up unadorned in shades of red, black, green and blue and then finally, they reappeared crafted out of colorful sequins. It made for a perfect finish to a collection that was well thought out, skillfully executed and sartorially striking.
- Jessica Michault