‘It’s much more mean this time,’ said Jonathan Saunders of his women's collection shown once again at Tate Britain which is grand. ‘I like mean. It’s about seeing the beauty in something that isn’t obviously precious which is a funny thing to play with when you’re working with luxury. It’s a bit like, what is expensive? What does expensive look like? To ask that question is my job I suppose.’
Certainly his summer collection with it’s fondant bright silks and overblown floral prints was a more pretty affair – in the conventional sense of the word at least.
This time around, and with Eighties speakers and TV sets complete with old school interference piled all around, out came ‘cardboard box’ coats and jackets. They were oversized and masculine and embellished with a patchwork of fabrics in neutral shades from the aforementioned cardboard to grey and made up in parts out of off cuts from the menswear collection he showed in January.
‘Raw was interesting to me too. I thought: how can I do deconstruction, something that is vandalised almost. Because my aesthetic is quite clean. I was fed up with that though. I wanted to do something different.’
Inspiration came from artists Robert Rauschenberg, Leigh Bowery and Sarah Lucas, dancer and choreographer Michael Clark, tailoring 'but punks wearing tailoring', and from the Blitz.
'I loved the way they made their own clothes at that time,' the designer said of the bright young blades who frequented that club. 'It was about chopping things up, like a fancy romantic sleeve on a wrecked old coat. There was that real disconnection between things.' In his hands any such disconnection came together beautifully.
The prints he is known for were bleached or rubberised and sprang from arts and crafts designs but modernised. The knitwear which is also very much part of his label's offering was chunkier than ever and worn over silver bias cut slips or more dresses the surfaces of which fluttered with silk leaves. And of course there were bomber jackets: Jonathan Saunders spearheaded their comeback. They looked brilliant in quilted leather with striped rib knit edges in unexpected hues.
‘I like real clothes,' the designer concluded. ' It’s a bomber jacket, it’s a pair of trousers. It’s not rocket science.' That might be true but there were ideas and artistry here in spades.