September 17, 2011 London
As crazily arcane as the concept sounds, it gave Jensen an opportunity to exercise his impressive growth as a designer. Strip away the story and there was still a collection's worth of alluring outfits. The broderie anglaise trench draped over a white crepe dress? Maybe church for Nina, but a shortcut to heaven for anyone else. A Lurex cabled sweater over leopard-print calico pants made a subtle, sophisticated addition to the season's tribal trend, as did the black broderie anglaise mini trench over the navy leopard spot. Jensen's mastery of charmingly idiosyncratic prints was demonstrated here in the safari-animal print used in a pantsuit and coat (Nina settled in Africa after her social activism made her persona non grata in the U.S.). And the multi-figured jacquard of a jazz-club audience, cut into a pair of short shorts and paired with a white tuxedo with a black-trimmed bib, was sharp and chic.
There is no doubt that Jensen's work is an acquired taste. Though he has polished his proportions, there are still eccentric excrescences (one peplum too far) and outbreaks of odd girlishness, like the chambray dress with the ruffled shoulders. But with Nina, he found a muse who could fully embody the sophistication of his craft, and the free-ranging extent of his imagination.