j.w. anderson’s oscillating odyssey of oddities for spring/summer 16
From documentary to commentary, Jonathan Anderson's latest collection was "everything all at once."
"The spring/summer 16 collection is an odyssey oscillating between galactic Olympics and empowered femininity," read J.W. Anderson's show notes. Surprisingly succinct, 'oscillating odyssey' sums up Jonathan's captivating complexity. By copy-and-pasting and manipulating the past, present and future, Jonathan Anderson's designs, for both his eponymous line and Loewe, are familiar yet otherworldly. Each season, he twists, turns and teases. Forever provocative, Jonathan is far from afraid to challenge himself and us, the audience and ultimately, the consumer. As he confidently treads the tightrope of taste, there are always aspects that will seduce some and repulse others, but we're all united by our intrigue. He never wants us or himself to be entirely at ease. "If you're too comfortable then it's stale, it means you're not doing a good job or pushing hard enough," he says. "The minute you fully believe something is truly amazing, you become too comfortable."
"It's a blurring of moments. That's where we are. In one season, you see the entire spectrum of fashion, it's everything all at once, that's what we do," he added with a smile backstage. "Both as a creative director and designer, I'm always questioning myself, 'am I doing enough, is it relevant for right now?'" Of course he is and of course it is. "It has to be relevant," he added. "What's relevance? It's driven by the audience. For me, they bestow relevance." Jonathan's true talent is knowing what both the industry and the consumer desire long before they realize it themselves. "As I speak right now, everything's right but in two weeks time, it might not be. I recently watched Public Speaking, the Fran Lebowitz documentary and it opened up my eyes to the relentless challenge of creativity being for now, that's it. Why do something if you're compromising? You just do it."
For spring/summer 16, there is pressure and release at every turn. It's time traveling tension and shape-shifting sculptures in which barely-there lingerie and ribbed knitwear that clings to the body give way to you-can't-miss-them leg-of-mutton sleeves, Keith Haring-esque prints and exaggerated forms. From heels that are technically at right angles to shirting that mimics leather and leather mimics rubber, we're the edge of the front row, inquisitively reaching out as Jonathan's cosmonauts of contrasts float on by. From documentary commentary to pop bangers, the clashes of the Michel Gaubert-produced soundtrack echoed those on the runway. Should Fran Lebowitz's commentary on Warhol mix so seamlessly with the voices of Justin Bieber and Rihanna? Probably not but in Jonathan's world, it works.
Somewhat familiar yet unusually fresh, all is not what quite what it seems."I love that J.W. Anderson spring/summer 2016 referenced Robert Wilson," Hari Nef tweeted post-show alongside a puffed shoulder Lineisy Montero look and a still from Robert Wilson's Deafman Glance. The same but different. This is reality through Jonathan's lens.
Text Steve Salter
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans