' Fall collection started strict, with a belted mohair suit whose lines recalled the late thirties or early forties. That was the era when Paul Outerbridge was pioneering new techniques in color photography, using a complex process that produced intense, distilled images. Outerbridge is a kindred spirit, of sorts, for Saunders, whose mastery of his own medium's print process yielded spectacular results in his latest show. The designer had the photographer and his time in mind, hence the pencil-skirted silhouette, but the approach to color and pattern—bold even for Saunders—was, he claimed, also inspired by Outerbridge's graphic juxtapositions. That would explain the linear, geometric patterns at the start of the show. They mutated into abstract flora and fauna that crept up legs, across shoulders, down arms, like an exotic virus. Saunders' palette loaned the imagery a hyper-colored eeriness, much like that found in Outerbridge's photos.
But if his clothes were such a success, some credit was due the new rigor in Saunders' shapes. The sheaths with their side slits or the longer, languidly fitted dresses with hems flouncing out from under tiers of pleating made strong, sexy canvases for color and print. And it was surely significant that one of the most striking looks in the show was entirely print-free. It was a simple maroon skirt paired with a blouse that was jade green in front, dusty rose in back. Strict, yes, but oh so sensual.
Saunders also showed a handful of looks from his new menswear collection. They were convincing proof that his aesthetic effortlessly jumps genders.