You can tell how well a designer’s doing by the number of women who turn up at a show decked out in his or her current collection. By that measure, Jonathan Saunders’s subtly Art-Nouveau printed dresses, and shirts and pencil skirts in hues of cranberry, teal, emerald, and red, have won the popular female vote this fall. They’re clothes which work as professional daywear, but aren’t too serious to take out to an early evening event—exactly right, in fact, for something like a seven o’clock fashion show.
Saunders is beginning to design in sync with the way women think—and that, when we get down to what matters in fashion, counts for just as much as ‘concept’ and ‘inspiration.’ Arguably more. For spring, he traveled even further along that trajectory of understanding, sending out a collection of beautiful color; outstanding but not trendily raucous prints in sequences of shapes with a completely modern validity about them. There was a time when Saunders would quote art and architecture as sources, but could seem to lose the thread when it came to applying his research to cutting clothes with a purpose in life. Not now.
This season, his translation of Miami Deco pastels and fifties full-skirted silhouettes moved effortlessly through separates, brilliantly subtle two-tone waffle knits, and silk dresses with curved, slit skirts. The whole impression was of a dynamic mobility, both in the believability of the clothes and their semi-fitted ease. It all made sense, right through to a lingerie-influenced evening section of crewelwork embroidery on tulle. “Floaty but not fussy,” said one woman outside. And another, “You know what? That man just gets it.”