LONDON, United Kingdom — In the current issue of BoF's print edition, Jonathan Anderson outlines the intense process he follows to build a collection, the furious accumulation of ideas, images and random inspirations which are layered to often surreal effect.
His Spring 2017 collection for men was a consummate expression of that process. Oddities great and small registered on their way down Anderson's deliberately cramped catwalk, which ensured the in-your-face experience he favours.
A few standouts: the motif of dancing jackal gods, the jigsaw-puzzle-on-woodgrain print, the cat-in-the-hat sleeves trailing floorwards, the interlocking Tangle crowns by Anderson's erstwhile collaborator, artist Richard X. Zawitz.
They were the giveaway. No, wait — maybe the soundtrack was the first clue. It opened with David Bowie's distinctive voice introducing the instruments for the Philadelphia Orchestra's 1978 recording of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf.
A fairytale, in other words. Because that's what Anderson's collection was. The models in their crowns and flying goggles were his update of Antoine Saint-Exupéry's Little Prince, the mysterious boy who falls to earth from an asteroid. Their long shirts over cropped wide pants looked like fairytale cartoon sportswear (though a couple of jumpsuits paired with sci-fi boxing boots were also reminiscent of The Man Who Fell to Earth where Bowie’s alien was dystopia’s grown-up little prince).
Anderson compared the outfits to modular toys, put together like Zawitz’s crowns. There was certainly an acute sense of composition in the way colours and textures interwove. (David Hockney’s iPad art was another reference.) There was also a raw playfulness: different gauges of knit tugging in all directions of a cardigan, seams spray-painted on a linen top, a kind of proportion-challenging glee that brought to mind the energy of BodyMap in the early 1980s.
Saint-Exupery's Little Prince is flummoxed by the strangeness of the adult world. Anderson’s collection flipped that. You could imagine “adults” being flummoxed by the strangeness of the designer’s boys in their button-through shirtdresses, not precisely gender-blended, more the chemically-altered spawn of a laboratory (Anderson prefers “a workshop of ideas”) where a mad scientist is creating a new tribe.
“People want fashion,” he said. Now we know just what that means to him. It's a trip.