Paulette Goddard was famous in old Hollywood for marrying well and divorcing better. Her last husband, author Erich Maria Remarque, added a substantial real estate portfolio and contemporary art collection to the pot when he died, but it was her jewelry that defined Goddard for posterity, much more than any of her movie performances did, even if she was the most charming thing in George Cukor's 1939 classic The Women. It was, in fact, while Peter Jensen was watching that film that Goddard and her jewels occurred to him as an unpredictable inspiration for his latest collection.
Unpredictability has been the genesis of many Jensen collections, most obviously in the way his eureka moment is transmogrified into something totally screwy. Here, for instance, he paged through a treasured tome called Famous Jewelry Collectors until he came to pictures of Goddard's gems. He printed those images onto rolls of adhesive tape, the idea being: You buy the tape, cut out the jewels, and apply them like decals on a lapel, around a collar, a waist, or a wrist. If the result misses the million-dollar sparkle of its source material by a million miles, its DIY ingenuity has a sly charm, which means it dovetails tidily with the Jensen design ethos.
It mightn't sound like it, but one characteristic of that ethos is a real thoroughness in approaching the season's inspiration. Goddard's wardrobe in The Women was a starting point for silhouettes like a skirt with a scalloped hem and a fitted dress in crepe, but the confident attitude of a life of well-heeled leisure also insinuated itself into the ladylike elegance of A-line coats, tunics, and a cardigan-and-slacks combo. Jensen kept it casual with a playing-card print (Goddard was also a gambler); a fresh, bright color palette; and cashmere V-necks borrowed from his menswear.
Speaking of which, Jensen launched his Resort range in tandem with his men's collection for Spring. His typically arch lookbook scenario made it quite clear why. Hollywood addict Andy Warhol was obsessed with Goddard and her jewels. He squired her around New York right up until his death in 1987 (she died in 1990), and it was Warhol's "normal" personal style that was exactly what Jensen was after for his new men's collection. Peacoats, jeans, corduroys, blazers—Andy would have approved. Mercifully, there were playful twists: one peacoat in gingham, the playing-card motif carried over from Resort ("because unisex really works for us," said the designer), a suit in a Prince of Wales check that was actually printed on corduroy, and a sweatshirt with a "Money, Money, Money" message that Warhol surely would have related to. But the best news for Jensen's male followers may be the launch of a capsule collection of ten summer shirts in the very special prints that have always elevated his designs for women. They've been a long time coming—betcha can't buy just one.