Ready to Wear: Unlike with Woody Allen, Peter Jensen’s muses are far from predictable

By Susannah Frankel
Monday 02 March 2009 01:00

Playing the muse, we all know, is a risky business. Just look at how quickly Woody Allen cast aside Scarlett Johansson in favour of the bright and beautiful young actress du jour, Freida Pinto, for example. Ms Pinto will be playing the ingénue in the director's new film, by all accounts. Poor Scarlett! Nowhere is any fickleness more marked than in the world of designer fashion, however – well, it's known for that, isn't it?

That brings us to Peter Jensen, one of London Fashion Week's brightest stars, who begins each season with a woman in mind and names his show after her. Unlike with Mr Allen, Jensen's muses are far from predictable. Past collections have been inspired by everyone from the ill-fated Olympic ice-skater Tonya Harding to Candice-Marie in Mike Leigh's 'Nuts in May', and from a youthful and befreckled Sissy Spacek to, this time around, his own dear Auntie Jytte.

According to the designer, the good lady in question owned a chip shop and cab company in Nuuk, Greenland, and loved fashion in the 1970s. That might go at least some way towards explaining the appearance of white thigh-high boots (authentic name, karniks) scattered with Tyrolean flowers that accompanied most looks for the forthcoming autumn/winter. They were super-cute and sassy.

Jensen is Danish-born and, sponsored by his country's government, he researched his extremely charming collection in Greenland and the Faeroes. The fruits of his travels were evident in everything from the aforementioned footwear to sweet double-thumbed mittens and double-bobbled hats. Smock dresses, flannel shirts, shantung silk skirts and check blouses might almost have been sensible – they certainly had their roots in bourgeois dress – were it not for the slight strangeness of their proportions and the eccentricity of the colour palette, not to mention the preponderance of peplums and frills. This is very Peter Jensen, although he says Jytte liked them too.

More purely whimsical were beaded capes (in the designer's imagination at least, Jytte spent long, dark evenings at home making these), floral puffas (to keep her warm as toast, given the enduring cold snaps), and a velvet dress printed with hound's-tooth check, which, according to the show notes, "shimmer like the seals do lying on the rocks". And how romantic, I ask you, is that?

Papier mâché jewellery, meanwhile, moulded into fish bones, half-eaten apples and broken hearts, finished a look that most people could only dream of. Given the tough prevailing mood, this exception that proved the rule was truly a sight for sore eyes: witty, pretty, proudly individual and imaginative in the extreme.

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