Dispatches from London: JW Anderson

For those who like to be constantly surprised...


Nothing is predictable at JW Anderson. He may pinball from stripped-back modernism to full-tilt 1980s  - as in the last two seasons - but whatever’s inspired his furtive mind, you can guarantee that he will have asked himself the following: ‘Am I doing enough? Is it relevant now?’ Meaning that whatever he comes up with will have been pushed to the limit. And then some.

With that in mind, silhouettes were pumped to the max or second-skin-like to the point of ‘airtight’. Leg ‘o’ mutton sleeves collided with a squiggle print ‘on repeat’ (think art by Keith Haring) and voluminous trousers (think disco pants) were drawn in with elastic above  spike-heeled booties.



Fabrics, purposefully, didn’t look like what they were: shirting appeared to be leather, leather looked like rubber, and knitwear, well, it didn’t look like it originated from a sheep. There was also a hyper-modern fabric, strangely spongy, that came in laminated-to-the-skin trousers which would’ve flared around the ankle had they not been strapped thereabouts with ties, lest any air should escape.  He’d also taken in new pieces (for him) – the pencil skirt, those ballooning sleeves, lingerie, big shoulders – to create a ‘hyper femininity, with a certain sternness’, some of which had emanated from the 1940s, he said.

The thrust of it all was the Martin Scorsese-directed documentary with writer and cultural commentator Fran Lebowitz (who could be heard speaking on the soundtrack). ‘She was talking about creativity and what it meant now,’ said Anderson. And so he’d embraced the idea that creativity must be of the moment, or in the moment. ‘This was an exercise in not compromising,’ he added. Which he didn’t appear to have done either, on any level.

So whether these were clothes you’d want to wear – and you probably will given that JW is about as cool as they come in London and beyond - is quite another matter. There were some absolutely brilliant pieces – particularly the most stringent in black and cream that relied on cut above all else. And those messenger bags that came two at a time, worn on each hip, will be the sell outs here. It all did as he intended. Pushed at the new. And was indeed creatively in the now.


ELLE Takeaway

1. You will be wearing lingerie – here, bras were hyper modern in strict black – and corsets and camisoles with occasional lace cycling shorts
2. Fabrics don’t look like what they are… see entire show
3. Amazing bags – some of the best came scrunched up in the models’ hands and fastened to the wrist with a serpent like silver coil.

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