When a fashion label comes to the fore and swiftly reveals not only extremely competent technical expertise but also a virtually perfect command of historical sartorial and cultural knowledge, the fashion world ought to pause and learn. As opportunities like this tend to happen once in a fashion blue moon, when they do, it is almost mandatory to heed. And investigating with pleasure is what The Style Examiner has done when observing the last three collections produced by the emerging talented design duo behind fashion label Teatum Jones who, with their Spring/Summer 2013 collection, have confirmed, once more, that theirs is an intelligent, pleasurable, and highly accomplished way to produce fashion.
Titled ‘From Democracy with Love’, the label’s latest collection embraces the potential creativity that the perception of dualities can offer in a dialectic process of investigation, debate, and overcoming impermanence to move forward in a constructive manner. In other words, designers Catherine Teatum and Robert Jones sought inspiration from romanticised visions of the future as nostalgically engendered by popular cultural manifestations of the 1960s, a process that had been investigated in previous collections (namely their Spring/Summer 2012 range) with great success but that has unquestionably achieved its best results in this collection.
Using the global political and cultural landscapes of the early years of the Cold War as inspiration, Teatum Jones observe the exchangeable and simultaneous roles of the villain and of the hero as societal constructs engendered by nationalistic propaganda, media platforms, and cultural manifestations. This millenary and universal reverse of dualities is applied with great success to luxurious silk-blend jacquard pieces woven with ice blues, pastel mints and dashes of gold that are simultaneously traditionally and utterly modern. In addition, porcelain-like chinoiserie drawings that depict architecture and imagery related to political and nationalistic ideologies of the 1950s and 1960s are cleverly introduced as an inquisitive and humorous Willow pattern in a process that interrogates classicism and futurism in the creative realm.
Silk shirt dresses with raglan sleeves present a contemporary elegance that transports their wearer seamlessly from day to evening, whilst the concept of duality inspires double-inverted pleat dresses revealing hidden layers of printed silks and the placement of calm, clean colours against controlled linear printed panels. Pleated dresses and dramatic couture capes conjure an overall image of luxury that contrasts with, and is further highlighted by, embossed silver chrome biker jackets and two-tone copper metallics as evidences of futurism. Fabrics included cashmere, leathery viscose, silk satins, double georgettes, and feather-weight opulent chiffons.
Having trained in Womenswear at Ravensbourne College of Design and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, the duo amassed years of experience with Luella Bartley, Warren Noronha and John Richmond, and met whilst working together on Menswear lines. Having made the decision to launch their own label, Teatum and Jones spent several years researching and developing their ideas for what they envisioned as a contemporarily relevant Womenswear brand. Their joint work made them realise how enamoured they actually were of one another’s sense of escapism. Besotted with the power of a story, and drawn to both romance and tragedy, the label’s collections reveal a compelling need to seek out beauty and refinement in what is ordinarily considered sinister or dark.
After being chosen as one of the 10 finalists for the Fashion Fringe competition in 2009, they launched their debut Womenswear collection for Spring/Summer 2011 in London, and showed as part of London Fashion Week’s official schedule for the first time in September 2011. However, instead of showing in the main space where throngs of bloggers, press and buyers gather, Teatum Jones chose to unveil their sophisticated collection in the Royal Society of Arts, a building designed by Robert Adams in the early 1770s. A few months later, they showed their Autumn/Winter 2012 in London’s department story Liberty’s in another intimate presentation.
Even though ‘From Democacy with Love’ (presented in the luxurious environs of The Dorchester Hotel in London) is only the label’s only fourth collection, it confirms that Teatum Jones is a sartorial force to reckon with in the London fashion world. The Style Examiner’s verdict is that their outstanding tremendous intellectual and creative skills really deserve a closer look by the fashion industry.
Photographs courtesy of Teatum Jones