#SuzyLFW: JW Anderson’s Bohemian Craftsmanship

I miss the early days of JW Anderson – the plays on gender when he was the designer who led male/female fluidity in fashion. I miss too the raw but futuristic fabrics and the crazy elements.

But I have to admit that the Irish creative with the gift of the gab sent out a cracking good collection this London Fashion Week. The clothes for Spring/Summer 2019 were that meld of craft and texture that gives wearable pieces a fillip. And after some tortuously staged past presentations with a maze of thin walls, this time the pieces of ironwork railings, which the designer said were inspired by the V&A Museum, gave just the right feeling of a well-crafted walkway.

“I wanted to make it a little bit more bohemian with a celebration of fashion and texture with fluidity to it and which is a bit patchwork,” Jonathan Anderson said.

“It had this idea of fluidity that everything was moving off the body,” he continued. “So you don’t see a static look – it has to be seen in motion as a walking look. I think that’s what clothing is about – the idea that it comes to life through walking in a domestic space or in the landscape of life.”

Sounds good. But what exactly were these clothes? Movement was key, as dresses had a floating wrap above an up-down hemline or a fringe as the lower half of a tailored jacket. Lace, streamlined rather than froufrou, was used as patchwork. It was a new take on that familiar masculine/feminine fashion story. But whereas the designer had previously brought back the broad shoulders from the 1980s, this season they were reduced to normal proportions.

The two points of reference or fashion statements were crowns covered in white headpieces somewhere between a nun’s wimple and a skull cap; and shoes that might be square-heeled loafers rising into boots, worn above handkerchief hemlines dipping and diving.

Throughout the collection, fluidity was all.

But take the pieces apart – especially their positioning on the garments – and there was a substantial wardrobe of fine clothes: woven dresses with airy open slices; or the same idea for a checked dress with a lacy collar.

“I think who ‘young’ consumers are today depends on what demographic you’re looking at in the world,” the designer said in a long backstage conversation.

“You know that consumer buying power has become younger globally, but I just feel, as I get older” – he is all of 34 years old – “that the character of the clothes has to evolve with me, or it becomes false. I think our price pointing is very different. Bags are no more than 1,200 Euros and the clothing price doesn’t really cap that. So there is still this idea of accessibility in being able to buy fashion.”

That seemed a complex way of explaining that many of the pieces were moveable, wearable in different ways and affordable, creating a body of work which relates to the reality of women exercising choice in how they dress.

And one thing JW has learned from LVMH, where he is creative director of the Spanish-based Loewe, is how to turn creativity and invention into a buck.