LONDON, United Kingdom — In lieu of a conventional statement of intent, J.W. Anderson posted the following quote from renowned British interior designer David Hicks for his audience on Saturday morning: “The excitement of today is the freedom of the individual to make his own choice and the vast range of possibilities from which he may choose.”
Interiors are an obsession for Anderson. He’ll completely redecorate rooms in his own house whenever he introduces a new element. And he reconceptualised the environment in which he showed his new collection as a series of narrow panelled corridors. “We shrunk the walls so you were trapped in this interior world,” he gleefully explained backstage. That was typically perverse on his part. As the staging narrowed options, the actual clothes themselves opened them up, “ a vast range of possibilities”, as Hicks wrote. But they were Anderson’s possibilities, meaning there were challenging plays on proportion, curious textural clashes, flourishes that married the playful and the peculiar.
The idea of morphing is a default position for Anderson. He was in love with undulation in this collection, ruffles and ruching and folds. One of the key motifs was a stiffened peplum which floated round the hem of a tunic in bands of colour (very Hicks too). He also emphasised hems with decorative waves of zippers. “Ripples, like sound from a sub-woofer,” he said.
There was a graphic 1960s, Twiggy-like something about the result, which tied in with Anderson’s promiscuous cherry picking from different eras: the short skirts all folded up like a couture frippery from the 1980s, the long black buttoned governess dress which was a bit early 20th century, the crafted elements that felt Japanese. Craft is another of his fallbacks. Here, the sculpted sleeves had the delicate substance of Japanese ceramics.
But all of that folderol can make Anderson’s clothes sound rather difficult, when this new collection was actually full of colour and friskiness. He claimed his motivation was “the idea of modern cocktail wear, women having fun”. So he carried over from Pre-Fall the notion of attachments that could switch the shape of an outfit , like the hoods or the zip-on panels which featured a clover picked out in studs. “Three leaf, not even a lucky one,” Anderson laughed. “And I’m Irish.” Why? “I like a motif, it doesn’t have to mean anything.” And isn't that fun?
But the meaningless added up to something substantial with Anderson, maybe a fearlessness, a devilmaycare-ness that was very persuasive. And, after a while, rather beautiful.