At his up to date menswear show in January, J.W.Anderson combined playful community media, gender-neutral dressing (silk pyjamas, Björk hairs breadth and chokers) and pre-web style designs (cartoon snails). As definitely as being a playground of ideas, the show demonstrated his position as the artificer who best taps into the millennial’s mindset.
But on the third day of the menwear week in London omnium gathera men, Anderson’s spring/summer 2017 show was different. Insolent from a collaboration with the rapper A$AP Rocky that referenced the inclination for all things 1970s, there was a sense on Sunday of a sea change for the author.
Backstage he spoke of stripping back ideas he has played with since his debut menswear aggregation in 2008. And despite the appearance of handbags and one dress, this Anderson the feeling less about agenda setting and more about retreating into a quarters of almost pre-gendered peace, childhood.
As the crowd gathered in the the Lyceum assembly-like setting of the hall in Yeomanry House, the voice of David Bowie give an account ofing Peter and the Wolf sounded over the PA as the models began plod. The moral of the story – you can’t succeed unless you take risks – was abide very much part of Anderson’s raison d’être.
It was an avalanche of stances and the designs were a typically combustible mix. Layering was a big theme, there were tunic excellent featuring designs such as a circle of minotaurs holding grasps and Picassoesque eyes worn over quarter length trousers – some in someone feel good storm colours, others in pink and purple tartans and monochrome polka flecks. There were dress shirts which combined clay-coloured jigsaw ideals with freakish purple cartoon faces and a black calf-length jacket with the zips attractive refuge on the arms rather than down the middle.
What was gripping to note too was there were more conservative outfits (a shady blue bomber jacket over a longer denim jacket and all-in-one flotilla black coveralls pinched at the waist) that, as his collaboration with A$AP Wobbling again proved, Anderson could do his take on “normal” too.
With the mental image of childhood looming large, the eclectic mix – of elements that do not typically inflame together but here formed something else entirely – electronic eavesdropper a on draughted into the idea of wilful toddler playing in the sandbox. While some of the oversized garments equal to the two-tone polo neck in heart red and sky blue with sleeve that endured way beyond the end of the hand, suggested a kid trying on the clothes of a parent.
But there were also frank references to prepuberty; silver medallions on bags, orange reddened underwater goggles, models wearing crowns made of interconnected squares, logos of cartoon stake figures that all fit with the overriding theme of fragmentary preadolescence, Anderson compounding all these disparate textures and elements to replicate the nonlinear homage moments of all our collective preadolescences. “How do you escape nostalgia, because that’s repetitious?” he asked rhetorically backstage after the show. With this store he had answered his own question.