J.W.Anderson London Fashion Week Spring 2016
Gargantuan ’80s leg-of-mutton sleeves. Galactic knitted pantsuits. Ruched body-con dresses. Keith Haring–cum–Vivienne Westwood squiggle prints. Gold metal chokers. Square-toed metallic spike heels of the kind that haven’t been seen since the ’90s. Let’s put it this way: There is a lot to process at J.W.Anderson. “A woman’s odyssey” was what Jonathan Anderson was calling it backstage. “The idea that if you took a date in time and sliced it through and looked at what everyone was doing at that time—would it mean anything? And would it matter if it didn’t?”
But let’s shelve the intellectual parsing of that complicated quote for a moment. Perhaps only Anderson knows what it means, and it doesn’t matter if we never do. But to state it plainly from another angle, the thing about Anderson, at this very moment, is that he is someone possessed of the ability to jumble together unexpected ideas, and make a new sentence of them. It is the sentence that reads: “You didn’t know you wanted this before—but now you will!” That, of course, is the essence of fashion—something that makes you feel a bit queasy and puzzled for a few seconds, but then, just as quickly shoots into the bloodstream as desire.
Jonathan Anderson classifies as an experimental avant-garde designer in that sense, a leader. But at another just as crucial level, he’s a clear-headed maker of product. Break down this collection, and it’s full of items to take away just as they are: many ribbed knits as tunics and pants, neat pantsuits in compact jersey, fluid printed midi skirts, a frill-fronted A-line dress, and a tracksuit covered in net. Then, bags, worn two at a time, cross-body, like panniers.
But back to what the man said: A clue was in the audio—a mix of Fran Lebowitz’s words about Andy Warhol and his manipulation of fame, and Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In the World).” “I was watching Martin Scorsese’s documentary about Fran Lebowitz and liked what she said, her commentary on a moment. She spoke about creativity. What does it mean? Maybe it only means something to me,” said Anderson. Then he paused and shrugged, as if something Lebowitz said chimed with him on the level of being a designer in an industry that is constantly running at high speed and, of course, whose work is instantly exposed at every turn. “Obviously,” he said, “There’s always another show.” Not that he should worry about that today: This was a moment that is certain to keep people talking—and buying their Spring trophies for plenty of time to come.