JW Anderson: Paganism in a surrealist shrine
today Jan 16, 2019
JW Anderson took us to a temple of surrealism this season and then promptly produced a pagan-like meditation on modern clothes.
For his debut signature menswear show in Paris, Anderson unveiled his winter 2019 collection inside André Breton’s former studio on an obscure street in the fifth arrondissement. The space was kitted out elaborately, with Persian carpets, huge charcoal drawings, black sand and giant helium balloons of the globe. It all riffed on the work of Paul Thek, an early path-breaker in art installations.
In the end, Anderson showed not just menswear but as much womenswear, often in complementary materials, albeit put together in darkly contrasting ways.
Hairy, shaggy booties or mechanical stud hiking boots for Converse anchored the cast; many of whom wore animal print socks and elasticated shorts, or more accurately techy fabric bloomers, almost like eel fishermen from Lough Neagh, the huge freshwater Northern Irish lake on whose shores Anderson was raised.
The designer’s key garment was the large coat; shown open and over askew sweaters and lots of nightshirts in boyish stripes, bright gingham or Fortuny plissé. His dresses were dramatic, cut asymmetrically and made in huge beach windbreaker stripes.
Half the cast wore one or more thick woollen cowls, adding to the diabolical sense of this quirkily clever show. Both Breton and Thek would have felt at home at this event.
“I just felt we had not done a men’s show, since really Florence and Pitti. So coming here was about extracting and changing the temperature. And it’s great putting men and women together in terms of a buying session,” explained the avant-garde but always commercially minded Ulsterman. Case in point, he launched the new Converse today on his website. Founded 11 years ago, Anderson now employs 70 people and is about to move into newer and bigger headquarters in Hoxton, London.
“The huge globes? Well, I am obsessed by the artist Paul Thek and his ideas. I believe now that everything in life is backlit because of mobile phones. And, I liked looking at Thek’s sinister view of the world, hence the globes and all the black sand. I wanted an acculturated space. Something impromptu, so the set was literally put together in the last four days. First outside in the yard and then inside. Things just look different against a black background look, they become more 2D,” said the ever-voluble Anderson, before pausing for a breath to greet his ultimate boss, Sidney Toledano, who oversees a stable of LVMH brands – among which JW Anderson and his night-job at Loewe. Anderson presents his latest Loewe collection on Saturday.
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