After receiving a positive response from American customers who understand his chic-modern take on certain things, Jonathan Saunders is limbering up to cross the Atlantic next season. London's loss will be New York's gain. A designer who started off in print, Saunders has accelerated to the point where he's defined a cleanliness of line and flair for color that can stand on its own on the buying floors of the best stateside stores.
This collection had those qualities studded through it. Saunders had, in part, been inspired by the Memphis Group's Ettore Sottsass, and that gave a logic to the color-blocking, banding, and ribbed knitwear, as well as to the distinctive eighties-Italian palette of dulled-pastel pinks, yellows, blues, and beige, set against black. Shapewise, it worked best when he stuck close to the body, in sleeveless, buttonless coats wrapped over crinkle-textured dressesbelievable looks that came nearest to relating to the lives of grown-up, earning women. He wavered when asymmetric meringuelike tunics and abstract pleating started to interrupt silhouettes. At night, though, Saunders was back on the kind of form that Americans love. His narrow, floor-length T-shirt gown, a pink-bibbed column halter, and a white chiffon, edged in black and belted, again demonstrated his potential appeal for women looking for an alternative to the regular event uniform.