After years of referencing classic literary works, from “The Rake’s Progress” to “Peter Pan” to the poetry of Dylan Thomas, the designer staged a show at one of his spiritual homes, the British Library, not only a great research institution, but home to the vast book collection of King George III.
Jeffrey showed a wild, disjointed collection against this backdrop — a glass tower at the heart of the building — with poetry readers joining a catwalk full of torn-up, painted-on, punk-edged, and flame-bright clothing for every sex, gender or personality able to tune in to Jeffrey’s colorful, weird — and generous — aesthetic.
The music — bits from The Clash — started, stopped and then started again while poets pronounced weighty verses. Then the clothes appeared: dresses with ragged-edged, rippling pleats; Twenties-style drop-waist dresses with bejeweled belts; a punk-y green plaid suit with wrinkled and puckered pockets; and flame prints placed on dark sweeping capes or knit minidresses.
It was all too much, and that’s just what the elegant Jeffrey, with his ink-black manicure and matching beret, was aiming for.
The designer said he wanted to channel the freneticism and tension of daily life, and to address “our overburdened hearts and minds.” He chose the library because “it’s the great equalizer,” a place where the written word rules, and where anyone can become empowered.
While the show was wild, there was also commercial sensibility here, with Jeffrey focusing on textile development and techniques in India, drawing inspiration from nurses’ uniform dressing during the Forties, and working his original painting and designs onto the garments.
Jeffrey may be a sensitive sort — loverboy, party boy and London eccentric — but he is no fool. This season, one of his priorities was “to pay more attention to product,” and “honor” the retailers selling his merchandise.
Creative and commercial: That’s fashion business by the book.