J.W. Anderson Menswear Spring Summer 2016 London
In his typically cryptic style, Anderson treated the audience to a show that we have yet to understand – a peek into the confluence of #pastpresentfuture, as the designer put it on social media. Few designers blatantly disregard the common themes on other runways, but Anderson’s march down the unbeaten track is an unwavering one. Having been on the jury at the most recent LVMH Prize, Anderson’s status has surpassed just being the dark horse on the LCM roster. He is now the sole proprietor of his own domain. His consistently purist visual codes, as seen today, establish his oeuvre as something deeply personal that could possibly be best described as self-portraiture.
Former themes of ‘70s subculture, Futurism, and mundanity took a red shift this season with a collection that read like an homage to the chosen ‘uns: endangered artisans rescued from a post-apocalyptic world to be based at a space station in the distant future is one way to make sense of it. Heavyweight denim was emblazoned with words like “orbital” and “stellar.” Gentle creatures that would not have seemed out of place in an Egon Schiele painting glided down the clinically white show space, with an abstracted toolbox in hand and a set of favourite tools stitched onto their left chests, close to heart. A second look at the toolbox revealed everyday trinkets like a whistle, a bottle opener, and even a particular self-pleasuring object. Crossword puzzles appropriated onto structured knits bring to mind unremarkable Sunday afternoons at home, passing time. Themes of banality were matched with a move towards Essentialism, intended to strip Anderson’s world to its bare necessities. Nude was opted wherever possible, leaving bare skin to emerge through fragile tulle, echoing the artisan’s introspective psyches. White flume was added for a touch of artistic flourish while roomy Judo trousers gave a brush of utility.
The “archaic future” look is a sign-off that is unmistakably Anderson’s. His defiance to be moved by reductive trends, inadvertently or otherwise, questions the role of the designer in relation to the ontological nature of fashion production. The singularity of his vision breaks the cycle of seasonal offers and exults each piece to the stature of timeless collectables. The metaphor of alienation seems hardly a coincidence. Music that underscored the show by mid-70s Opera composer Robert Ashley, who radically pioneered the idea of Opera for Television, embodies Anderson’s appetite for the Avant-garde. And, as alien as his world may be, the designer is definitely in a league of his own.