A Jonathan Anderson collection is, for us, always an event and the exciting perspective to discover what lies inside the designer's head. There is something so fascinating about him. This fascination goes beyond the fact that his collections are always beautiful and so full of clever ideas. Inside Jonathan Anderson's head, there are a million references related to Art, Pop Culture, Childhood Obsessions, History. He is one of these fantastic designers who are not afraid to make things having nothing in common clash then assemble in the most intricate & sensible way. Collection after collection (either for his eponymous label or for Loewe), he is reinforcing our love for a fashion that has something to say, a fashion going way beyond this mere idea of clothes. As we have already written before, he is just like an Art curator actually, putting things together, assembling them in the most perfect way. The pieces he puts together, all the accessories, the strong ideas/concepts he is conveying, everything mixes perfectly, in the most intelligent way.
The designer's collections are now part of the biggest events of the London Fashion Week and yet, the pressure seems to have faded away. As he said to Tim Blanks of Business of Fashion, he no longer feels the need to prove his skills & talent to the whole world. This was clearly the goal of his first collections: making a name for himself/showing his technique/setting the JDubs (his nickname in Fashion) Touch/making himself unforgettable. The mission is more than accomplished as he is now genuinely symbolizing the Future of Fashion. His prominent feeling when working on a collection is now "let's do what I have to do". He presently needs to build collections for himself first and of course, to surpass himself; an obvious & healthy need to make collections that will be better than the previous ones. The fact that this J.W.Anderson Spring Summer 2017 collection seems more commercial & more wearable than the last ones is a direct consequence of this new mood: there is no longer a need to create clothes with absurd shapes to be remembered and as he told Tim Blanks, growing older, your collections become more mature too, your vision becomes, in a way, sharper & more precise; thus, the need for facetiae & exaggeration slowly fades away. With his namesake label, the British designer is like a kid growing up: more reasonable.
The starting point of this SS17 collection is Henry VIIIth and the fashion of those days, a fashion that could be summed up with "Bigger is Better". As he told Tim Blanks, "huge structures to make you feel big" and once again, men's clothes for a women's wardrobe (this is an essential characteristic of Anderson's work, this gender-blending/gender-blurring working in both ways). To make his point, J.W.Anderson is resorting to all the "gimmicks" we love so much: leg-of-mutton sleeves, ruffles, pleats, frills, straps all conveying this idea of a Renaissance feeling twisted with some excessively modern elements. This collection is at the same time very dramatic (in the shapes, the details, the lacing...) and completely effortless & peaceful, "tranquil" as the designer would say; thanks to the soft colours in the dresses, the tie & dyes reminding me of a calm Summer evening, the fabrics that are light & natural (with an important focus on linen). Most of the dresses move so lightly, so delicately; they are quite reminiscent of Anderson's work for the Spanish house Loewe. We can really feel that this experience is enriching the way he is conceiving his own label .
As Tim Blanks points out, this new collection is a "solar" one as if it had been designed for "a girl dancing around a bonfire and sucking an MDMA lollipop". Quite extreme as a description but quite accurate to be honest. This is definitely one of the designer's strengths, this ability to mix antagonistic concepts, to digest them and make them cohesive at the end of the day. Who else could mix so beautifully, the wardrobe of one of the most fascinating British characters with the Summer days of a girl who is, according to JDubs, both "calm and spanky"? This is the wardrobe of a girl/woman on the edge: a girl/woman who needs to be beautiful & crazy at the same time. A girl/woman who wants both peace & drama. That's what makes this collection so modern, so sharp; we're living in complex times since we all need to be like everyone else and yet, we need to feel unique, to own things that will make us feel special. This kind of schizophrenic feeling is something normal when you truly love Fashion. We want to own must have pieces (that potentially a huge number of people will own and I predict that next season J.W.Anderson's jackets will be on the shopping list of many fashionistas) and at the same time, we want to be in harmony with our very own aesthetics. This is the feeling I got when I watched the collection. Fascination for a girl/woman who loves bold statements (dramatic shoulders, deconstructed jackets with raw final touches, huge earrings -the statement of the season-, all-over patterns, balloon shapes, naive yet intriguing prints...) and a complex effortlessness. This is a girl/woman who sometimes looks as if she were wearing draped curtains from some ancient mansions or linen table clothes turned into a dress and yet, she is looking fabulous & effortlessly cool. With this SS17 collection, the J.W.Anderson girl/woman is quite similar to the LOEWE woman but with something younger, fresher and an undeniable Britishness that could be found nowhere else.
Pictures by Lillie Eiger for Dazed
Just like her maker, the JDubs girl is growing old. There is still something irreverent about her but she is different. She no longer needs to dress up to shock, to provoke, to feel alive. She is dressing up for herself now, she wants to feel beautiful & edgy. She may seem calmer & more serene but this is only a facade. She is boiling inside and in the blink of an eye, she could be wild & untamed again. She may look cerebral but never forget she is and always will be a British girl i.e she is not and never will be faint-hearted.
Words by Charles Margueritte