Has any designer from his generation come so far? From humble print maker who once knew nothing of cutting a pattern let alone finding his designer DNA, to a fashion frontrunner positively fermenting with new ideas?
Yes, it’s all been building nicely – all those strong, consistent collections - but to see him leap so far in one season? Power up his creativity and kill off his lady – she of the polite printed frock, who was selling very nicely, thank you very much – and get so defiantly modern?
The atmosphere in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall was electric by the time his new woman stepped out in a nude body and stark silver skirt, shades, red lip and gladiator Louboutins, to the strains of 1970s punk band, Wire.
The prim starched 1950s dresses of last summer were now replaced with a silhouette more suited to a modern ballet dancer – smooth across the body, flaring at the legs, and sliced into swirling panels of colour.
‘I love the way dancers arch their backs,’ said Saunders backstage amid a swarm of well-wishers. He’d been inspired by Michael Clark, the dancer and choreographer.
He’d also been looking at Op Art. ‘It was all about newness, clean lines, about being non-referential. A fresh start.’ His translation: powerful screen-printed stripes in shiny laminate suits.
And what of his party animal in scarlet sequins? At least that is how she appeared from the front. From the back it was a different story. ‘I loved the idea of seeing this super-glamorous disco queen and then you see her from the back and she’s in a dowdy grey knit twinset,’ he explained. ‘I was sick of doing this prim buttoned up woman. I wanted to see more skin, more sensuality.’
Get ready to meet the new subversive Miss Saunders…