jw anderson explores the joy of looking
“We want to find meaning in everything, but maybe we should just enjoy the idea of experience, find pleasure in looking. Maybe that's enough?”
“There's no underlying message to the show,” Jonathan Anderson said backstage after showing his SS20 collection. “We want to find meaning in everything, but maybe we should just enjoy the idea of experience, find pleasure in looking. Maybe that's enough?”
The collection seemed to be a continuation of last season’s vision of fashion as fantasy, but here purified, focused more on the reality of the clothes. It was all eminently wearable, uncomplicated and beautiful. Reinforcing all this, Jonathan kept the same configuration of the space as last season -- with guests stacked up on terraces into rafters of his showspace just off Russell Square. But whereas for AW19 the models walked on thick, plush, carpet, as if strolling on top of clouds, here they navigated around a series of works by the Canadian artist Liz Mangor, who Jonathan discovered at Harvard earlier this year.
“Liz's work is about the idea of ephemera,” Jonathan explained, “And when I did the first fitting for the show, that opening black look, there was something there that reminded me of Liz’s works. Something about taking the things we no longer want and repositioning them -- I started to think about how I can make what I make today last for a long time.
“It’s about boredom and objectification, inside the containers -- they are kind of like reliquaries -- but they are containers for the things we no longer want. And in fashion there's this never-ending cycle, we constantly discard things, bring things back, where do these things go? There’s this fragility of objects, so I started looking into the idea of looking at things, exploring how we perceive things.”
So the clothes themselves? He described them as resembling something blown up and then deflated. It was about subtle exaggerations and distortions, a cut out at the waist, the way jewellery interplays with and changes the clothes we wear, cinched waists and nipped in ankles, finding an uneasy balance between reduction and expansion.
The dresses came with looped, glittering rings around the breast -- jewellery becoming armour, Jonathan explained -- but also the “sensuality” of jewellery. Another play on perception, the idea of looking. For a show with no meaning, there was a lot to unpack.
Photography Mitchell Sams