Peter Jensen has spent his fashion career leaving us in thrall to one woman after another as he builds his aesthetic each season around a different muse and her story. With Peter Jensen being celebrated in a dedicated exhibition at the Design Museum in Copenhagen this summer we wanted to talk to him about these muses and his relationship with them over the last 11 years.  

Q. It looks like your first official muse in AW2001 was the rather tragic figure of Mary Miles Minter, the Anne of Green Gables star who puritan America turned on – did she start the tradition of Peter Jensen’s muses or were there unofficial muses before her?

A. She was the first as in the first one that got made up for a Peter Jensen women’s collection. But there were actually a few before her, because I started looking at these women that I like when I did my MA at St. Martins, so the very first one was really Marianne Faithfull.

Q. Take us through the evolution of a pair of muses like Candice-Marie and Keith (characters in Mike Leigh’s cult 1972 film Nuts in May) for Men’s and Women’s AW2008 – who came first? Or did you choose them as a couple?


 Women’s and Men’s AW2008 Candice-Marie and Keith

A. As far as I remember it started up with someone else, though I actually have now completely forgotten who that was! But anyway I was watching “Nuts In May” and started thinking that it really made sense with what was going on with designs and fabrics.

I really liked the idea that it was a couple and that we showed the menswear as a catwalk show in Copenhagen fashion week styled by Jacob K and the Women’s collection (with a few Men’s looks) in London Fashion Week styled by Beth Fenton and with a set built by Andy Hillman. Andy’s set for the show was great, it was a big tent on stages that the models had to climb though.

Q. The Tonya collection was actually shown on ice – an amazing example of the influence of your muse over the final presentation of the collection. How did you make that happen?

A. We did a casting of professional ice skaters which was quite an overwhelment as we got a response from around 200 people and we only needed 20. We knew that there was an ice skating ring on Queensway, so it made perfect sense to use that as a sort of catwalk, if you like.

I was living in Hollywood when the whole Tonya Harding / Nancy Kerrigan thing happened and I think it stayed in my head, because it was a fascinating story and quite sad at the same time. I think this is the show that people really remember us doing, which is nice but it is not my favorite…


 Womens SS2005 Tonya

Q. By the end of a design process is it hard to let your muse go or do you find you are usually ready for the next one?

A. No, I’m very happy to let them rest and forget about them for a bit. I like working with them for the time and let them tell the story. Then I hope it all makes sense when you as an outsider looks at the collection and think “yes I can see it, it makes sense.” Or maybe not – that is ok as well.

Q. Finally (we have to ask) your latest figure of inspiration must already be well established at the studio – any hints for us as to what to expect for S/S 2012’s muse?

A. Yes there is but I am not telling! I did that one time and people started to have their own way of thinking about this poor woman and then when they saw my work they might think “No, that is not right, that is not how she is or how it needs to look”. Sorry you will have to wait until September.

 

Peter in his studio 2011

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 Q. MFP has led the way in blurring the boundaries between jewellery and clothing, how did you come to the concept of Jewellery-Wear?  

A. I see myself as a versatile designer and I have conceived my brand under that concept. MFP is jewellery-wear, which means that accessories become the starting point to create a look. I find this a subversive attitude towards fashion, still strongly contemporary and pop.

I believe in changing the perspective in life and art, with an ‘Inside-Out’ approach forming the leit-motif of my collections.

Gaga in MFP SS11   

MFP Jewellery-Wear Chain Dress out on the town…

Q. The gothic fairytale of your AW11 collection was named after Fortuna, a Roman goddess with the power over man’s fate.  How did she inspire the statement headpieces of the collection?

A. I believe we make our own ‘fortuna’ and I wanted to make mine.

I conceive jewellery as amulets that bring good luck and memories. In this way I want MFP customers to treasure what they buy. I don’t believe in consuming goods, but in living them and making them our own, filled with our energy. 

I often look at the ancient tribal cultures and rituals and I am inspired by fetishism, pop culture and religious aesthetic.


Q. Lady Gaga is obviously a huge fan of your designs and was recently spotted in London wearing AW11’s Fauno headpiece.  Tell us all about dressing Gaga!

A. That’s the funniest part of my job when you meet someone like her. She can wear absolutely anything fearlessly and make it work, she’s a master of that. Her stylists Nicola Formichetti and Anna Trevelyan are geniuses. They have perfectly translated her uber-pop outrageous appeal into high fashion.

I have just created some bespoke pieces for Gaga and it’s been an exciting journey I want to repeat.

From left: MFP’s A/W 2011 Fauno headpiece, MFP bespoke piece and MFP Chain Trousers

Q. Your star-studded following doesn’t stop with Gaga – Rihanna, Cheryl Cole, SJP, Theda BaraSienna Miller and Beth Ditto to name but a few. Living or dea d, which celebrity would you most like to see wearing your designs?

 A. Theda Bara, the silent film star and original sex symbol. She’s THE femme fatal and my everlasting inspiration. I think I even look a bit like her…!

I would also like to put a hat on the Duchess of Cambridge sooner or later!

Q. Finally (we have to ask), can you give us a sneak preview of what’s inspiring you for SS12?

A. Poison potions, the power of crystals and stones, Egyptian goddesses and crowns.

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The Challenge: Take the Sara Berman Studded Stevie bucket bag and style it for a British Summer…

Look One

Look Two

Look Three

Look Four

Look Five

Look Six (Rainy Day!)

Model: Rebecca Dove

STUDIO NOTES:

Where it all started: Two original design sketches for the Studded Stevie from Spring/Summer 2011…

The Bag

Toggles Detail


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What are you inspired by?

Ettinger leather goods are timeless classics designed with unique English flair.

What are your design signatures?

Beyond the superb quality of production, Ettinger stands out for its simple but bold colour combinations, notably its signature “London Tan” panel hide, with its bright golden hue, especially popular on our wallets.

How would you describe the Ettinger man?

Timelessly elegant, appreciates quality, traditional in outlook whilst dabbling with fashion… Enjoys going off the beaten path.

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What are you inspired by?

Inspired by everything from film to art, literature to architecture, product and furniture, world travel and culture, people that I meet day to day – the list is so endless. Of course most importantly – MUSIC.

Recent projects have included an installation at Dover Street Market, an exclusive erotic collection for the luxury sex emporium Coco de Mer, a show-stopping catwalk piece for Swarovski Runway Rocks and a limited edition shoe heel for iconic London shoe designer Georgina Goodman.

What are your design signatures?

Hannah Martin creates luxurious and decadent collections described as ‘jewellery for men, that girlfriends will steal’. Sharp bold shapes, specific combinations of precious stones and metal, overall I would say sculptural elegance and masculine detail.

How would you describe the Hannah Martin man/woman?

Hot. Of course. We have clients from so many walks of life – so it’s hard to be specific. I would say however that our client is someone who appreciates good design, high level of craftsmanship, British manufacture, and an item that has a story.

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