Jonathan Saunders knew what he didn't want for Spring: androgyny and any reference to the seventies. Instead, he was looking at what he called "the gorgeous picture-postcard beauty" of the women in Erwin Blumenfeld's fashion photography of the forties and fifties, and, from the same period, the pure, sporty femininity of Claire McCardell's designs.
Those inspirations made for an extremely pleasing show. The models, in precise ponytails and bright red lips, wore pretty dresses with just enough edge to stay this side of saccharine, largely thanks to Saunders' skill as a colorist. So a pale blue sundress would be anchored by a band of industrial orange, spray-painted around its hem. Or a decorous knee-length, box-pleated dress, also in orange, would be troubled by what looked like gray oxidation creeping across its prettiness. Saunders used an abstract floral wallpaper print in a bustier with a pencil skirt, and a blouse with a pleated white skirt.
Same print, different mood: one womanly, the other jeune fille. That determined the show's pendulum swing. The woman won. The subtle sophistication of a dove gray halter dress banded in yellow and white, or a floral slip trimmed in mint green and veiled in a sheer shift, also floral-printed, was significantly enhanced by the length, while all the short, pleated skirts looked too girlishly rah-rah for a designer of Saunders' acuity.
Case in point: the final dresses, the first an elegant floor-length black column with a white bodice veiled in net lace; the second, the same configuration of black, white, and lace, but flaring out to a mid-thigh hem. Saunders' point about options couldn't have been made with more clarity. It was just that one of the choices looked so much more desirable.