LONDON, February 19, 2011
ByLike almost everyone else in the civilized multiverse, Betty Jackson surrendered to the charms of Just Kids, Patti Smith's memoir of her life with Robert Mapplethorpe. She was enraptured by the sense of abandonment, by the way anything could be picked up and used in their life and art. Throw a wool jumper over a chiffon skirt? Why ever not?
There was a feel for that contrast in Jackson's Fall show, in combinations of fabric weight and texture, and—another obvious example—the purple nylon parka layered atop a long cardigan coat and trousers in a broken-diamond pattern.
The designer has an ineffable instinct for clothes that manage to intrigue and flatter—you could see that here in a leather blazer that tied in a bow at the base of the spine—but today it went askew with odd proportions (mid-calf lengths, slightly dropped waists, slightly belled skirts, short sleeves) and fabrics that looked too heavy, particularly a plush alpaca-angora blend and a spongy bouclélike knit.
By way of contrast to all that weight, a sheer floral handkerchief-hemmed dress and a black lace shift ought to have injected lightness, maybe even a sense of abandonment. It didn't happen. Jackson may, however, have unwittingly nailed an element of the Smith/Mapplethorpe saga to which Patti herself understandably gave short shrift. The red tones that dominated the collection—the red of a rose, the red of blood—were the colors of a man-eating Jezebel