Danish-born, Central Saint Martin’s alumnus Peter Jensen, is known for his playful, pop-perfect prints and animated colour palettes. His distinctly quirky style has led him to become a super-celebrated contemporary designer and made fans of many, including Wonderland, of course.
His eponymous brand was established in 1999 and first showed at LFW two years later and it’s been a highlight ever since. Each collection is as charismatic as the last and are famously named after, and inspired by a chosen ‘muse’, whether that’s an artist, film star or singer. These icons of visual culture from Meryl Streep to Andy Warhol have been transformed into beautifully made materialistic (get it?) versions of themselves. Jensen’s SS16 is of course no exception.
‘Enid’ is named after Thora Birch’s character in the film Ghost World (2001), in which she and co-star Scarlett Johansson (Rebecca), play two teenage outcasts with one hell of an idiosyncratic dress sense. The film itself was based on Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel of the same name; clear to see in the beautifully bold graphics such as the recurring ice cream cone motif.
Jensen’s collection <> is a reflection of a dreamlike, if somewhat artificial, life in suburban America – an anthology of sugarcoated pastels, preppy crisp collars and cartoon-like two-tonal pockets. This white-picket fence wardrobe is presented with a witty undercurrent that makes it oh so irresistible. We caught up with Jensen to find out about his inspirations, film-loves and what it takes do be his muse.
The new collection, Enid, is titled from Ghost World, which was released in 2001, the same year you entered London Fashion week. Was this a particularly inspirational time for you?
Oh wow, yes you are right, I didn’t think about this. I don’t know if it was a more important time than any other year. I think personally that fashion was more fun and free around that time, it is way more controlled now.
The film was inspired by Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel of the same title. Growing up in Denmark, were you a comic book fan? As graphics feature a lot in the new collection.
Yes. My dad got Disney’s Donald Duck magazine every monday though the post, he never ever read a book only Donald Duck and I loved to read them, so much so that I always buy Donald Duck when I go to Denmark. Oh sorry that might not be a comic book, I love Ralf Konig, great gay humour.
Tell us a little bit about that iconic rabbit.
Right, he ( I call it he) came into the PJ world during SS01 <> collection, the muse for the collection was Bette Davis character from the film called “Of Human Bondage”, which is based on a book by W. Somerset Maugham. The rabbit was first used as an allover print, but later on got his own life and I started to take him apart and put him back together again
Colour is obviously a big element for you, especially in this collection. Where do you think this love of colour came from?
My mum’s family have always been knitters, sewers etc and my dad was a carpenter, which in my book is very artistic. I grew up in the 70s ,there were a lot of colours in clothing, fabrics, wallpaper etc maybe that is were it comes from. I love colours, I do but I love them when they are used right and not as a statement.
Where do you start with formulating, let’s say the ice cream cone graphic?
It is always very different where the idea comes from. The ice cream came from having a hangover at home watching, I think Midsomer Murders, and the ice cream van kept driving up and down my street with that song playing really loud. It was so stressful but he did a really great ice-cream sticker on the van, so thank you ice cream man!
Clearly American influence is fundamental to these pieces, the white-picket fenced small town world, high school, prom, pop culture – all of it. Have you visited these kind of places in America?
No, I haven’t but I would love to take a month off and drive from coast to coast in the US, see all the weird and wonderful things that one is not meant to see in the land of the free.
At least 16 or 17 collections have been focused on American artists, actors, films etc (Sissy, Jodie, Diana, Andy…) Why is this, where does this come from?
Oh right god is it that many? Yes, I do. I think, it is because it is so far from my culture and where I grow up, it is glamorous America isn’t it? I lived in Hollywood in 94′ which was fun, I love LA.
Have you ever met Scarlett Johansson or Thora Birch?
No, but I have seen Johansson on the street in Copenhagen. I believe that she comes to Copenhagen often because she has family there. Her granddad was a famous childrens presenter on Danish TV, so I sort of grow up with her. Ha.
What’s your favourite piece of wardrobe from the film?
I don’t really have anything that I love more then others, I do like Johansson’s pastal long sleeve t-shirts.
Mary Zophres was the costume designer for the movie. Are you a fan of her other work?
I have the greatest respect for her and her work, bloody hell she has done some great stuff, Fargo, True Grit, Bewitched etc etc and her birthday is the day before mine, so a fellow Aries! This is very important.
I would love to do some film work. In fact, I almost got thrown out of my BA because I was doing the costumes for a play at the gay theatre in Christiania (the freetown in Copenhagen) the play was “The Women”, women played by men. It was great and I had so much fun.