London's first major show this weekend was by Jonathan Saunders, whose disco drama chic was a pretty masterful example of sleek glamour and cool self-editing.
Saunders, a Scotsman who has made the U.K. capital his home, got his inspiration from the glory days of Disco, i.e., the late 70s, when he had been barely born in Glasgow. But he took the glitz and excess of the dance culture somewhere very new with a wonderful sense of edgy posh. He may create clothes with fabrics worthy of a diva, but Saunders cuts his silhouettes very lady like indeed.
"I wanted to capture the things I see in an Antonio Lopez Polaroids. Their drama, their intense colors," Saunders told FWD, referring to the legendary illustrator and chronicler of the Me Decade.
Using huge swirls, zigzags and twists of bold blocks of color and materials like neon sequins, metallic leathers and micro disk silk, Saunders created a collection that dazzled without ever falling into excess. It helps that his cuts are relatively restrained - slip dresses, almost prim tops and boyfriends' jackets. To keep it sexy, the Scotsman added in micro bras and large Disco Queen shades, yet the ensembles never looked stagey.
Saunders is creative and important in that he taps exuberance into cool panache: his women attract attention, but always admiringly. In a lesser designer's hands this would be a pastiche; in Saunders case it's a major new trend.
Staged Sunday evening, Sept. 16, in the bowels of Tate Modern, on the south bank of the Thames, the show was also London's best staged - a twisting angled catwalk, Kevlar walls before austere concrete columns and an ace soundtrack by Jean Noel Young.
"It was all this stuff I used to admire when I was kid, but could never afford. And I was born in 1977. That and the way Michael Clark dancers would arch their backs," the designer added, referring to the famed Scottish choreographer.
So, after presenting London's best menswear collection in June, Saunders has presented the most telling women's show in September. He is on something of a roll.