Teatum Jones A/W14: Tough Beauty

As fashion week has concluded there’s time to take stock of the shows, consider the emerging trends and have a cup of tea and a nice sit down. One of my favourite shows of the week was Teatum Jones A/W14 – it may appear that I’m hideously biased considering the Catherine and Rob (Teatum and Jones respectively) are my mates, but their design prowess is unquestionable. I feel no shame about lavishing the duo with well deserved praise.

Their latest collection, titled ‘I cried almost all the way to Nashville’, is quite possibly my favourite so far. Inspired by the working people of the Western and Southern States of America where the punishing landscape demands grit and fortitude to survive – this season shows a tougher side to Teatum Jones. Catherine and Rob referenced the subjects of Richard Avedon’s series of photographic portraits, The American West. The stark, weather beaten faces of Avedon’s subjects speak of endurance, determination and the cruel environment in which they lived. Consequentially this collection has a severe edge that is a new development for Teatum Jones, their diaphanous shirt dresses and swathes of silk embellishment have been strong features of their previous offerings. Their signature floating silks were still present this time round but were grounded by clean, masculine tailoring and in metallic jacquard in silver, pewter and black, in square scaffold like patterns. Added to the ridged lines of the jacquard, there were monochrome chevron patchwork, in skirts and dresses embellished with frayed edges, tassels and embroidered roses – like roadside flowers stubbornly poking their petaled heads through unforgiving tarmac.

Catherine and Rob’s collections are laden with narrative and are as multi faceted as the women who wear their clothes, this season is no exception. In addition to the stringent metallics and monochrome palate there were sumptuous reds and pinks in prints reminiscent of the splattered overalls of Richard Avedon’s portrait subjects. However, the softness of the rosy colours were still punctuated with lattice panels which acted as a linch pin to the tender prints.

It’s uncomfortable for me to consider the inspiration point of this collection, these polished clothes are a far cry from calloused hands of the workers of the Southern States. As I watched the beautiful models glide by my metaphorical middle-class-guilt-monkey poked its meddlesome finger in my ear to remind me of my own cloistered existence. However, a theme that runs through Teatum Jones’ work is the enduring will to survive of the strong woman, she who just gets on with it no matter what seemingly unsurmountable obstacles are scattered across her path. I believe it’s this grounded attitude to women and their designs that is the core of their genius, and why they are a dazzling highlight of London Fashion Week.

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