Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

Every day as my train pulls in Waterloo station, I pass a series of brightly painted cabins smattered in graffitti. I've always wondered quite what goes on in there- impromptu jamming sessions for teenagers, perhaps? Well, last week I learnt that it is something rather more refined as I found myself approaching Makeshift studios from the other side, clambering up the steps to meet Catherine Teatum and Rob Jones who occupy one of those cabins. Inside it is actually a sleek designer studio, all clean lines, giant Mac screens and walls covered in tears making up moodboards for their SS13 collection, 'From Democracy, with love' which I have come to preview. I first encountered Rob and Catherine at LFW last season and they talked me through a dark journey into the sinister side of fairytales. They had created vibrant prints inspired by Grimm's Fairy Tales alongside great tailoring and were showing at Liberty.

This season's partner is The Dorchester. When they wrote to the hotel asking for more information about The Dorchester prize- an award for emerging fashion design talent- they got talking about a more bespoke collaboration.  Teatum Jones has taken the quite unusual route of breaking into the fashion scene not through sponsorship but through collaborations with the likes of Liberty and now The Dorchester. It makes sense given their background; Catherine previously worked at Luella Bartley and Rob at Warren Noronha before they set up together after meeting working on menswear at John Richmond, and launched their first collection for SS11 after a whole year of meticulous planning.

Refinery 29 quickly tipped them as ones to watch. Now they're two years into their venture, stocked everywhere from Vancouver to Riyadh to New York, and have really got into the groove of working together. Catherine describes how they "really trust each other. Rob sketches and I drape on mannequins then we come together and develop each other's ideas". Even before that stage, they have it all worked out- Catherine decides on a book she wants to read (for SS13, it was 1984) while Rob immerses himself in films.

The collection they will present today is all about the sixties and how the future was imagined at that time. In the context of the moon race and the cold war, the world was an uncertain place. " We were interested in the tension that existed in the world then" Rob says, summing it up as "glamour laced with fear". The ultimate incarnation of that situation was Jacqueline Kennedy who "went through so much but always looked so pristine, always performing even when her suit was splattered with her husband's blood".Aside from 1984, the pair reference sources as wide-ranging as the exhibitions various countires put on to show their might, plus films like Battle Royale and 2001: Space Odyssey. So, what does that actually look like as a collection?

There are the prints and tailoring they've been honing from the start but Teatum Jones has also ventured into jersey and jacquard for the first time. "We listened to feedback from our customers around the world and knew they loved easy pieces so we have done jersey and every sleeve in the collection is raglan which is so flattering" Catherine describes. One of the prints comprises soft lines inspired by Lucian Freud painting, juxtaposed with the crushed metal aesthetic of John Chamberlain. Meanwhile, the tailoring is sublime, especially a cool spearmint two piece; they have a secret lady advising them who also works with Savile Row stalwarts Ede and Ravenscroft and Hardy Amies. The silhouette is very much that 60s couture shape worn by Jackie Kennedy. My standout piece has to be metallic jacket which changes in the light from aquamarine to copper with a silver centre panel. I'm also looking forward to seeing the Atalanta Weller shoe collaboration. 

Odd buttons, a Teatum Jones signature, on a selection of AW12 and SS3 pieces

Rob and Catherine have worked with The Dorchester on a few projects in the run up to the presentation.  They've designed a scarf with a print created from the hotel's archives of photographs. They have gone through what must have been an arduous process of mixing a bespoke cocktail with the help of The Dorchester's mixologist. It's called "The Odyssey" and is a combination of English gin and (French, obviously) champagne. Catherine's architect brothers, Teatum and Teatum, are doing the set design for the presentation and from the sketches it looks like it will more than hint at that retro- futuristic vibe which underpins the collection. Above all, the whole shebang promises to be completely "chic", how could it not be when Rob and Catherine use this word so often that it must permeate their every thought? Not that I'm complaining, that's what we want from our designers isn't it? 

Rob Jones and Catherine Teatum (portrait by Alice Whitby)
'From Democracy, with Love' is at The Dorchester today (Monday) at LFW. Teatum Jones is avaialble to buy at Liberty.


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