A fashion film to celebrate the first 10 years of the Jonathan Saunders label
To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of his label, designer Jonathan Saunders produced a short filmentitled ‘Jumper.’ The fashion film pays tribute to Pier Paolo Pasolini’s1968 film ‘Teorema.’‘Jumper’ is the result of a collaboration between Jonathan Saunders, director Justin Anderson and The Mill studio; it was styled by Saunders with pieces selected from 10 years of archive.
‘Teorema’is a mystery story depicting the dynamic of a typical Italian bourgeois family and the destabilising ‘visit’ of a young man, played by Terence Stamp. Never named, the ‘visitor’ is present only for the first twenty minutes of the film.
The story told by Pier Paolo Pasolini is that of the aftermath of his visit, of the slow destruction of the family, one character at a time. The visitor had seduced in turn the mother, the father, the daughter, the son and the maid.
The setting of ‘Jumper’ references David Hockney’s 1973 painting ‘A Bigger Splash.’ This iconic pop art picture depicts the quite setting of a Californian modernist house disturbed by a splash in the pool.
Saunders’ ‘Jumper’ starts in a lush garden: a man removes his green trousers and coral jumper before diving into a swimming pool. On the porch, wearing a sleeveless red dress with botanical prints, and holding a green watering can, a woman observes the naked swimmer.
Her gaze bores into him as he gets out of the pool and walks towards the house. As the visitor draws nearer, the two stare at each other, their faces seemingly expressionless. The film alternates close-ups and broader angles. Next scene: at night, the mysterious man, still naked, stands outside behind the glass, his gaze fixed on the family’s dinner. He is visible to all and everyone steals a glimpse of him, yet his presence goes unacknowledged. Amidst a steaming bowl of spaghetti and crusty bread, the visitor continues to stand, the icon of the family’s unspoken desires.
The movie is image driven, no dialogue seems necessary to communicate the story. An unnerving music plays in the background, mixed with ambient sounds; the splash in the pool, the clanging of cutlery and the spilling of water, it conveys the tight bond of sexual desire.
The director, Justin Anderson, originally trained as a painter at London Slate School of Fine Arts. He later turned to video art, and now works with fashion magazines and brands, filming commercials and promotional fashion videos. In ‘Jumper,’ Anderson quotes Pasolini with precisely orchestrated allusions to what happens to the ‘Teorema’ characters following the departure of the visitor. The blue face of the ‘Jumper’s’ boy alludes to the 1968 parallel character becoming a painter; the void glances of the girl refers to her consequent state of catatonia in the Pasolini character. As for the mother, the rhapsodic change of dress is a direct reference to the licentious way of life she eventually adopts. The hand of the father, plunged in a glass of water symbolises the foreshadowing of his abandonment of civil life to live on in a surreal desert.
Water, be it in a pool, in a glass or spilled during the dinner, is the element which links past and present. Water carries a strong erotic power: its fluidity connects every character to the visitor. Water creates disorder, spilling everywhere on the table and ignored as each character loses themselves in their private fantasies. Water symbolises the stillness of life shattered by a splash.
The detailed and respectful referencing of Pier Paolo Pasolini 1968 film indicates not only a great love for the original film, but also an understanding that, in a never-ending game of meaningful ‘give and take,’ fashion is deeply embedded in human life. Whether masks or banners, clothes always reference precise universe; clothes lead the narrative.
The tireless interplay between clothing and nudity in ‘Jumper’ creates a visceral tension; the clothes and their absence are equally unsettling. Garments are the means to gloss over one’s hidden desires; nudity the only way to free the body – and thus the mind – from the prison of conventions and social decorum.
Jonathan Saunders compiled a precise brief for each of the characters, amassing various personalities into 10 years of dresses, shirts and of course, colourful jumpers. Geometrical prints and repetitive patterns are Saunders’ signature. In the film, the designer also includes pieces from his latest collections, clean shapes in bright monochromes. The only character not dressed in Saunders’ garments is the father. Justin Anderson explains in an interview released on ‘The Space Between’ blog, that as ‘a bourgeois man in his early 50s, he would not wear Jonathan Saunders clothes, so instead he wore an oxford blue shirt.’
The unsettling atmosphere of the movie, to which the rigour of the forms and the saturated colours of Saunders’ picks contributes, underlines the real provenance of seduction. Clothes, in the combination of all their elements, are made to suggest, allude, attract. Their power remains even when they are dismissed.