One of the problems with an industry such as fashion latching on to a movement such as #MeToo is that at some point, no matter how sincere and earnest the actions might be, those whose work is not shown first can appear to be merely jumping on a bandwagon for the sake of expediency. Since we experience fashion shows along a linear schedule it is inevitable that shows later in the month feel to some degree as though they’re copying what we saw earlier in the month. Reality is that designers plan these shows independently months in advance. Any overlap is accidental. Still, those who come late in the schedule have to work harder to seem original.
Such is the problem the design team of Rob Jones and Catherine Teatum. I’m sure when they sat down last year and planned the massive video presentation projected onto the back wall, they had no idea that Marques’ Almeida would do almost exactly the same thing two days before them. I’m sure when they planned a color palette that fell into three parts, the first focusing on shades of pink, they didn’t realize just how many other designers would use that same color range. Yet, both those things happened and as a result, the TeatumJones show felt very much like a re-run, a variation of something we had seen before.
The video, which appeared in segments before each portion of the collection, presented the women’s answer to questions such as, “What has been the most intensely sad moment of your life so far?” A loaded question to be sure, the women’s answers involved moments of physical and emotional pain that has left a lasting imprint. Each of the three questions correlated to a specific color. Joy is represented by the shades of pink and red. Sadness is represented by the blues/blacks. White, which closes the collection, represents hope.
Walking the runway was a diverse cast of women encompassing a wide age range, exceptional racial and gender inclusivity, and amputee model Kelly Knox who has been rather busy this runway season. Sending such a strong message of power, strength, and inclusion would have stood out dramatically had it occurred at the beginning of London Fashion Week. Coming when it did, though, on the last day and just a couple of hours before the Queen arrived at Richard Quinn’s show, many reporting outlets, including all Condè Nast titles, dropped their coverage.
What might have fueled that decision to drop Teatum Jones to cover Quinn is that while the concept was strong, the actual clothing line also felt a bit like they had taken previous silhouettes and done a dye job on them. How many oversize statement coats can they do? How many times have we seen extended sleeves? While the pieces are attractive and very commercial, we’ve already seen enough trouser suits to fill wardrobes for two or three seasons and we still have Milan and Paris to go. That sense of sameness is not something designers can anticipate because it doesn’t occur in their world. They don’t see their collection in comparison with everyone else. We do.
Here are a few samples from this Teatum Jones set:
The Teatum Jones show was quite emotional and inspiring. Participants and guests lingered far longer than usual sharing stories and giving encouragement. Theirs is a strong collection with a genuinely important message. Unfortunately, it has been buried in the editorial cellars and ignored by all but their existing client base. Let’s hope they can change that before next season.