September 26 2011
As someone who takes both a professional and personal interest in Britain’s young fashion-design talent, I find it very satisfying when one of my early favourites comes very good indeed. Jonathan Saunders arrived on the London scene from Glasgow and Central St Martins in 2002 as someone with a totally original take on print, soared high, and then, when the time came to move his collections on, had a few setbacks in finding his identity.
I was unsure for a few seasons whether he was going to be a London essential or not, but when I saw the prints and fresh colours of his clean, modern yet nostalgic collection for summer 2011, I decided that he definitely was. And his autumn show was, to my mind, the pick of London, combining the new, lean, clean, longline silhouette with topically arty mixed prints and vivid, daring colour combinations.
It seems I am not alone in this view – London’s top stores now feature him, although, as is the way with the young Brits, they tend to buy sparingly. Not so Fenwick – truffling in their elegant designer floor last week, I found a whole corner devoted to him. Apparently Fenwick’s buyers believe in committing themselves to showing properly the relatively small number of designers at this level that they sell, and good for them.
The iconic pieces are all there, including midi pencil skirts, a longline, body-conscious crepe dress with a gorgeous art nouveau printed midriff (first picture) – in either red, soft pink and black or vivid green, blue and black (and yes, the colours work) which, at £899, is a high price for this store but selling well; and my own choice, a beautiful silk chiffon tunic in an Oriental bird print (second picture, £555) that I will wear over black trousers, but which those blessed with slender pins can treat as a dress. It even comes with its own slip. Winter knits and more dresses are yet to arrive, but I advise anyone interested to hurry along, and be beguiled.