In arcade parlance, Jonathan Anderson’s spring JW Anderson collection hit the jackpot, perhaps the most potent distillation of his perspective on fashion yet — and a joy to behold.
The designer has been asking himself the questions lately — “Are we falling into the screen? Are we becoming our phones?” — and exploring the impact of the metaverse, the latest meteor hurtling toward planet fashion. He nailed it with his sensational and mildly disquieting spring men’s collection for Loewe, where his models wore clothes and shoes sprouting live plants, but had their faces obscured with those proverbial “black mirrors.”
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He took a more playful approach on Saturday night, but his show was no less thought-provoking as models snaked through a maze of flashing video-game machines. Cue Emily Ratajkowski, her famous Sports Illustrated swimsuit-issue curves obscured by boyish pants and a loose T-shirt, out of which protruded two plastic fins: She had dived so deep into her surfer game that she became a surfboard.
The tropical beach scenes printed on neoprene rompers were stock screensavers grabbed from the internet, while the JWA logo was picked out in big, 3D computer keyboard buttons tacked to crinkled T-shirt dresses.
“So many ideas,” Michael Burke, chairman and chief executive officer of Louis Vuitton, enthused after the show, explaining his presence by gesturing with his thumb and saying, “I live around the corner.”
Anderson was in an ebullient mood during his post-show scrum, thrilled to be back in London with his first live women’s runway event since 2020, and back at one of his university-day haunts, the Las Vegas Arcade Soho, next door to his flagship London JW Anderson boutique.
“I’m in a moment of reduction,” he said as a way to explain the preponderance of one- and two-piece outfits, and his wish to telegraph “individualism” and “realness.” So dresses became a mere bubble of chintz, a short swath of shower curtain knotted at one shoulder, or two lengths of perforated jersey ingeniously knotted to become surprisingly sexy gowns.
Mohair sweaters suspended from wire hangers around the neck were kooky; satin gowns topped with lace — gorgeous. The whole spectacle teemed with originality thanks to Anderson’s creative stew of wit, humor and fashion fireworks.
His tribute to Queen Elizabeth II was as succinct and assured as the collection: A black T-shirt writ with the years of her long, incredible life and the words “Thank you.”
Launch Gallery: JW Anderson RTW Spring 2023