Step into Lafayette Anticipations in Paris' 4th arrondissement and you’ll get a glimpse into Jonathan Anderson’s mind. The venue, traditionally home to contemporary art exhibitions, features dangling porcelain artworks by Kate Newby and a plastic wire sculpture by Harry Kramer. In the back, the JW Anderson founder served chocolate cake and green juices. He’s always been about that high-low mix.
For Anderson’s latest co-ed runway show — the designer showed both his men’s Spring/Summer 2020 and women’s Resort 2020 collections — he returned to the idea of a shared wardrobe. After all, Anderson was one of the London pioneers who offered a wearable proposition for gender-fluid dressing in the early 2010s, before it became a buzzword.
“I liked the idea of a tuxedo because it can be sensual on both a man or a woman, and it goes back to where we started,” Anderson says, referring to his Fall/Winter 2013 collection, in which he pushed gender boundaries with large ruffled shorts and tight tube-top two-pieces. “It’s taken me a while to understand what a ruffled short looks like today. [And] there’s something quite sensual about a man and a woman in a suit. All sizes can wear it.”
Anderson's sleeveless versions came with superhero cape-style flaps in the back for both men and women. Others included long silk scarves and tassels. Knits were a recurring theme, from crown-shaped head-pieces to full-length, multicolored tasseled tunics and slashed velour knitwear. The latter, Anderson says, was inspired by his sister slashing up T-shirts in the ’80s and customizing them with plastic beads.
That sense of DIY spirit has always been present in Anderson's work, both with his namesake label and in his designs for LVMH-owned Loewe, where he has been creative director since 2013. Artisanal craft has always been at the heart of the Spanish fashion house, making Anderson an ideal, yet modernizing fit.
“I like this idea of craft goes machine," says Anderson. "I wanted something that feels like mosaics and you blow them up, something which felt free about a silhouette.” For his own label, he wants the craft to be more refined and artful. “We got rid of the raw edge. Whereas you would usually chop something, we finished the edge and are moving towards precision, where craft is one idea, not three. It’s whole on its own.”
So thick multicolored knitwear came in wool shirts, trousers and tanks in one-piece cotton, and “cap” bags in bonded leather. Felt shoes, granny knits, and massive headbands looked like they had been passed down from a previous generation. “There’s modernity in the wrongness,” Anderson laughs.
“This isn’t a styling exercise, but a silhouette exercise. It’s a fashion proposition, not styling,” he says. And, proposing a new way of dressing for the modern man, JW Anderson SS20 once again succeeded in pushing the boundaries of what masculine style means today.