"Color," said Jonathan Saunders backstage before his show, when asked what he'd been thinking about for Spring. "I wanted a bit of playfulness, something uplifting in these trying times." He got things started with Sgt. Pepper jackets in the brightest turquoise and acid yellow, worn with sculpted-chiffon skirts that hit a few inches above the knee. Saunders chose lilac and baby pink for kimono jackets with stiff, somewhat awkward ruffles below the waist. And for the racerback tank bodices of youthful ballerina dresses, there were pastel jacquard weaves. Playful as the spirit was, you couldn't exactly call these office clothes.
Equally electric was a graphic, geometric print that appeared on a chiffon dress with a deep V-neckline and bell sleeves. If Saunders hadn't accepted the creative director post at the Milanese label Pollini, replacing Rifat Ozbek, he'd be a smart pick for the position that's said to be open at the Italian print house Emilio Pucci now that Matthew Williamson's contract is expiring. As for the uplifting part of Saunders' equation, that came in the form of two beautiful color-blocked floor-length dresses that closed the show. As new riffs on the sleek jersey columns that first got him noticed in London, they had a natural ease. Saunders is clearly pushing himself as a designer, but these looked as if they came to him easily, and for that reason alone they stood out.