• Text Jake Hall
  • Photography Emily Malan
  • 17th September 2019

Fresh perspective

Stepping into JW Anderson’s SS20 venue was like entering an art installation, with pieces created by Canadian visual artist Liz Magor throughout. These consisted of stuffed teddy bears, paintings and pastel-coloured blankets carefully housed inside makeshift boxes of cloudy, iridescent plastic.

As models began to filter in, dots were joined: the knitted blankets seemed to have been a reference point for a series of short, spaghetti-strap dresses, whose sugary pinks and yellows bring an unusual element of sweetness to the runway. There was a more overt feeling of romanticism to the drapes of silk and chiffon which recurred throughout the collection’s earliest looks, while interrupted by rigid, shimmering metallic lines, which traced the form of the models’ breasts.

Left-field details like these have always permeated Anderson’s vision, which subverts what it means to look ‘sexy’, or ‘feminine.’ In his world, kitsch floral tea-dresses are deconstructed and pulled apart, left with asymmetric ruffles, a low-hanging, crystal-studded belt and a single puffball sleeve. Splattered, cow-print dresses are clamped at the breast with jewelled, flower-like cups, and suit jackets flare out at the waist into exaggerated peplums, decorated again with intricate spirals of crystal.

Throughout the show, the soundtrack blended elements of folklore and electronica, marking a transition from day – knitted dresses, tasseled fabrics and standout, warrior-like leather bags, which featured three individual pouches – to night, as metallic lamé and lurex worked their way into a series of high-octane, shimmery coats and evening gowns, which formed an unconventional yet brilliant aesthetic. Think disco starlet meets off-duty superhero. These off-kilter references are never unexpected at a JW Anderson show, which is precisely why his vision continues to draw one of London’s most excitable fashion crowds.