London shows are usually about a marriage between fashion and art on some levelbut not usually as literally as Peter Jensen's spring collection was. His show was not just dedicated to Tina Barney, but from backdrop to voice-over, it was a carefuland rather touchingattempt to reproduce scenes from the art photographer's Rhode Island album, Theater of Manners. In other words, Jensen gave us an ode to American sportswear and conservative special-occasion wear of the kind Barney capturednostalgically yet tenselybeing worn by her family in the late eighties and early nineties. "Tina was involved all the way along," the designer said. "We played her favorite tunes from Burt Bacharach and an interview I recorded with her."
So, how did the clothes turn out? There were linen trenches, neat Prince of Wales pencil skirts, shorts, and miniskirts in seersucker; a red-and-white striped skirt was lifted straight from a photo of Barney's daughter in a beach towel. From there in, Jensen's transpositions were just a little weirdershirtdresses acquired an eighties cocktail dress side-ruche, knotted cardigan sleeves were fused into shoulders and around hips. Any preppy American would identify this as not quite the real thing straight off, but that's the point about Jensen. For him, it was just another path into doing a quietly ironic take on "normal" clothes, which is exactly what his followers appreciate.