J.W. Anderson has gone a long way with his unique, wholly unorthodox vision of clothing; winning awards, fascinating critics and even teaming up with gay hookup app Grindr, which streamed the designer's show live to its users. It's hardly surprising, then, that Anderson's Fall/Winter 2016 show was a highlight of the London Collections: Men schedule, and Yeomanry House was packed to the rafters with industry insiders - oh, and one A$AP Rocky.
First impressions of the collection were that Anderson has made a stark departure from the gender-bending cuts that defined his previous seasons. Rather than drawing attention to exposed flesh, garments were used as a canvas for Anderson's wild imagination to run free. His quirks made their way all over adventurous pieces that were crafted from perforated leather, plush satin and kitsch faux furs.
"Symbolism doesn't need to make sense" Anderson explained after the show. "It's this idea of cultural tags - it's something that marks your territory. I like the idea that you have these rubber tags attached to fur - no matter what it is, it brands it. It's kind of like a sticker...I like the way that it gives things a faux narrative."
He may have deliberately avoided heavy concepts, but the Northern Irish designer left his mark all over the collection regardless. That snail motif was moulded in rubber on coats and embossed on satin suiting. A stunning two-piece was covered in anime-style caricatures. Ray guns appeared on yet more satin pieces. Cloud-shaped pockets were used on zip-up jackets.
On his experiment with Grindr, Anderson was doggedly pragmatic. "Ultimately, media drives everything - the speed means that you must keep the pace" he stated backstage. "I believe in this project, I feel that it's very important that brands explore media - it's the only way forward. I don't see any differentiation between Grindr, Tinder or even Instagram - fundamentally, we use any social device to meet people."
This tag team of technology and fashion may seem bizarre, but it's a sign that the Northern Irish designer is a true pioneer. His uncompromising vision is not only changing the way we wear clothes, but the way we view them as well.