JW Anderson’s Zen garden chic with a Beckett twist
today Feb 18, 2019
All about stripping down to essentials at JW Anderson, even if Jonathan Anderson’s essentials are wickedly tricky constructions – garments that can, and should be, worn in half a dozen different ways.
The setting could not have been more succinctly stripped down. Almost minimalist it was. Inspired by a Zen garden in Tokyo, with ancient stones nestled on an ecru wool carpet, the audience stacked high over the scene.
“I wanted this idea of people looking down at clouds and at mountains from above,” explained the Northern Irishman in a swirl of 20 fashion critics in the post-show backstage.
Pagoda-shoulder jackets with grommet belts paired with huge loon pants; rather marvelous chesterfield check warp boleros with humongous sleeves; raw yet refined Florence Nightingale capes; and a series of remarkable new dresses – completed with cut-out holes, offbeat draping and some marvelous tulle garlands at the neckline.
The artfully selected cast, their heads finished with waxed haircuts, marched diagonally around the set, staged in Yeoman House, a small military warehouse in Bloomsbury.
A square format, referencing Samuel Beckett, whose color video Quad for the BBC, had characters taking similar strolls, allowing one to see each garment from four angles.
Most girls' looks were finished with a wacky baseball cap that sat off the head like a fascinator. Some so detached they became handbags. Jackets looked like you could peel them off in layers, or wear them in five or six different ways. Huge strips of tulle were wrapped around the neck and then appeared out of the trousers. Commercially clever too; notably the Oxford baggy trousers, designed back in the twenties for men and women, and made in a sturdy gabardine that will be must-haves.
“It’s awkward elegance, a little like Britain. I wanted a city vibe to this. These characters who stand out in life. Fashion is interesting as long as you can stand apart from it,” continued the designer, maintaining his interview gambit of talking and looking off into the half-distance in an almost stream of consciousness even as he is surrounded by over 20 mobile phones recording his every word.
A huge burst of applause, from an audience that included every editor of note in town, with Anna Wintour sitting alongside the designer’s ultimate boss, Sidney Toledano, president of LVMH Fashion Group.
In a word, an another excellent fashion show by Anderson; the most contemporary collection in this five-day London Fashion Week; and the biggest single reason for serious aficionados to depart from the world’s greatest fashion capital, Paris, and get on the Eurostar to see the shows in London.
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