Peter Jensen is a Danish-born, London-based mens and womenswear designer. Jensen's designs are known for being inventive, playful, colourful and well-made. In terms of inspiration, his work is characterised by a unique mixture of popular culture references and often makes reference to infamous or cult figures. Jensen's women's wear collections are consistently inspired by and named after a female Muse - though Jensen avoids obvious style icons, instead homing-in on popular culture's more marginal or complex females, who are as likely to be eccentric, wanton or even criminal, as they are heroic or overtly chic. As the designer has confirmed, "I like to base my collections on strong-headed women." (The Independent).
His muses have so far included, among others, Hollywood actress Mary Miles Minter, American photographer Tina Barney, the character Candice Marie from the Mike Leigh film, Nuts In May, Carrie-era Sissy Spacek, disgraced Olympic ice skater Tonya Harding, John Waters' actress Mink Stole, the legendary Helena Rubinstein, collector and more Gertrude Stein, artist Cindy Sherman, singer Nina Simone and even Jensen's own Auntie Jytte, an ardent lover of fashion in the 1970s who ran a chip shop and taxi company in Nuuk, Greenland.
When Jensen introduced his well-received debut resort collection in late 2009, it combined his popular rabbit logo with typically left-of-centre references to a 1963 photograph, Triplets, taken by the controversial US photographer Diane Arbus.
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.
LONDON, September 22, 2009
By Tim Blanks