• Text Lewis Firth
  • Photography Takanori Okuwaki
  • 15th June 2015

Free spirited

The filtration of ideas with JW Anderson consistently transpires as personal, controlled, and incredibly innovative. His aesthetic is instantly recognisable – but hard to describe. Cultural signifiers are woven with an adept pushing of gender frameworks, combining as a complex (yet clean, that’s key) combustion of meaning and form. His cryptic references conflate notions of their source – but who cares? The best designers draw questions, they don’t answer them and the fact remains: JW Anderson’s execution is considered and sublime. His SS16 collection followed this rule.

Some notes were given: ‘free-spirited’ and ‘pure’. This was conveyed in delicate ways, such as nude tulles and beige, high-waisted trousers – sometimes with just a peep of skin on show. But it was the balance between light and brutish qualities that struck an emotive chord with his designs. Heavyweight denims were painted with soft brushstrokes, and tops were cropped and split at the centre-back to reveal more skin – an intimate quality. While Judo jackets, belts and trousers, in white and beige – sometimes with strong, red prints of crossword-puzzles spelling out words like ‘flight’ – created a clear contrast between opposing forces: light and dark; controlled and free; weak and strong.

It was all a play between masculine codes of brawn and brutish qualities and personal, light, delicate notes that you would associate with femininity. Anderson has always been occupied with boundaries of the sexes, conducting these notions in an expert manner. And this Spring / Summer the narrative of oppositions was just as striking.