Just last week, the Scots said “yes” to staying with the rest of the United Kingdom, and the attention generated could elevate Scottish brands to a new level not seen before. One of Scotland’s favourite fashion sons Jonathan Saunders is creating a bit of a buzz with the country’s premier heritage label Lyle & Scott. In his collaboration with the 140 year-old knitwear label, it’s aye to colour all the way. Yes, bright colours for guys who aren’t afraid of them, and patterns too. For some reason, we’re seeing a transgressive Happy Days directed by John Waters!
Print and colour from Mr Saunders are to be expected. And Lyle & Scott—sometimes considered the UK’s Lacoste—is also not a brand to shy from a vivid palette. The pairing seems to be made in colour wheel heaven. What’s a joy to see is Mr Saunders’s unabashed clashing of prints in some of the styles, which rides on Lyle & Scott’s 1960s golfing heritage. It is also, according to the Glaswegian designer, inspired by “Peter Saville’s artworks and traditional iconography that was translated in a sort of op-art way” (as revealed in an interview with The Independent last month). The result is sports-geek-friendly, yet won’t be out of place in a discotheque.
The psychedelic vibe is further boosted by a video released to commemorate this collaboration, possibly to keep pace with so many posh brands augmenting their artistic standing by releasing fashion films of art-house aspiration. Lyle & Scott’s short is, however, a frenetic Vimeo-worthy film that captures Mr Saunders’s bold aesthetics unapologetically, with loads of graphic interplay to enhance the clothes’ colour-infused patterns. This should lift the standing of Lyle & Scott above golf-playing men of a certain age, without having to drastically redraw or wreck the label’s blueprint.
Mr Saunders, who presently celebrates his 10th year as a designer, has been winning accolades since graduating with an MA from London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2002. In fact, it was reported that two days after his graduation show, Mr Saunders was commissioned by Alexander McQueen, whose label was then freshly acquired by the Gucci Group, to design prints for his spring/summer 2003 collection. The result was a burst of colour that came together to form what would be known as the bird of paradise dresses. His prints continue to win him fans and commissions, especially by fashion’s big boys such as Chloé (under Phoebe Philo) as well as Pucci (under Christian Lacroix). In 2008, the Italian label Pollini (the shoes, designed by Nicholas Kirkwood, are stocked at Robinsons The Hereen) appointed Mr Saunders as creative director, a position vacated by Rifat Ozbek, the Turkish-born designer who was quite a sensation in London in the late Eighties and early Nineties.
Lyle & Scotts’s pairing with Mr Saunders isn’t the label’s first outing with a non-mainstream designer. Back in 2012, they collaborated with Junya Watanabe (under the “Eye” line) for a capsule collection of polo shirts that had the usual unexpected details Mr Watanabe is known for. Lyle & Scott sits alongside other heritage brands to have their polo shirts re-imagined such as Lacoste and Fred Perry. Whether with the eagle, the alligator, or the laurel wreath (or other creatures or fauna), we say, keep the creative coupling coming.
Lyle & Scott X Jonathan Saunders tees, SGD139, and shirts, SGD299, are available at Tangs Orchard