"A bit sexy," said Peter Jensen of his new collection. "Maybe I'm growing up," the 44-year-old designer added. Or maybe it was just that his muse of the moment had a little more va-va-voom than his usual left-field inspiratrices. With his typical OCD thoroughness, Jensen mined the wardrobe of Diana Ross—for it was she who was la muse de Printemps—for every warp and weft of motivation. He started with the album sleeve of 1979's The Boss. That's where the twisted top with the low-V neckline came from. A Las Vegas concert from the same year—all-white costumes by Bob Mackie—inspired items in virginal broderie anglaise, and silver-sequined sweatshirts and pencil skirts. In 1983, Ross performed in Central Park in a thunderstorm. That's where Jensen got his raindrop print. A petal-lapelled coat echoed an outfit from Ross' OTT turn in the camp classic Mahogany. Then—from the sublime to the ridiculous—a duffel coat in striped cotton reproduced an outfit in which the star was snapped returning a video to Blockbuster.
Jensen's artist friend Julie Verhoeven contributed Diana collages that, when printed on black, artfully duplicated her visage surrounded by a corona of superstar hair. Jensen turned to Andy Warhol, an artist he didn't know, for a serial print based on the singer's lips, taken from a portrait for the cover of the album Silk Electric. It was a reminder that Jensen is a print master. (With this collection, he launched a capsule of dresses in ten prints drawn from his archives—the female counterpart to the group of men's shirts he launched in June, which have already proved a hit with retailers.)
Jensen's Spring thing begged a couple of questions. Why Diana? Why now? You scarcely needed a familiarity with the oeuvre of the ex-Supreme to appreciate that this was Jensen's most polished, most "grown-up" collection to date, but it was also enlightening to hear the designer's own breezy justification. Setting aside the über-arch Blockbuster reference for a moment, Jensen felt Ross stood for a good time, a chance to dance away the dark. It's the same impulse that has seen the fashion world fall all over again for the work of Antonio Lopez, and it's the same reason Studio 54 will never die (however much you wish at times it would). And, quite frankly, it's a joy to see Peter Jensen get down—and get back up again.