For autumn-winter 2022, Jonathan Anderson embraces all things “weird”, and seems to be aesthetically torn between the 1980s (sparkly party dresses) and now trending, early 2010s “indie sleaze” (metallic lycra jumpsuits). The JW Anderson collection was planned to be shown live in Milan with a late-night after-party. An IRL event would have enhanced and disrupted this season’s menswear week. As Anderson explained in a preview, however, the party element especially was nixed by Omicron restrictions and the live Milan debut has been pushed back until June. During that preview, Anderson used the word “weird” countless times: most often at a point at which he unlocked the thinking that had led to key elements in this collection. It was “weird” how a documentary on Cristiano Ronaldo inspired him to re-engage with “the limits of hyper-masculinity.” This lead to Anderson’s gleeful excavation of the polo shirt – “there is nothing more quintessential”—as a masculine cipher which he then disrupted by variously lengthening it into a hoop-hemmed dress, rendering it in micro-sequin with a vintage “Glamour Bonnet” hair net advert, or reconfiguring it as a high-shorted playsuit. This last look brought back fond back-in-the-day memories. When not watching documentaries “on everything and anything” Anderson spent much of his time weird-scrolling, and the results inflected this collection. The gorgeous eye-graphic dresses had a chin-strokily John Berger inference yet were sparked by a bout of engaging with the world of YouTube make-up tutorials. The menswear tunics peppered with rubber bands and sweaters featuring tubular protrusions that ran from one side of the hem, between the wearer’s legs, and up to the other hem with both pieces designed to generate sound through contact. “A lot of the materials have these odd sounds qualities that are kind of almost sexual… there’s a kind of tension,” he said. These were the by-product of spiraling into ASMR content on TikTok, another “weird” lockdown stop-off. When Anderson detects weirdness, he is not repelled but stimulated: for him “odd” and “bad taste” hold creative opportunity. Allied with his highly refined sense of beauty, the results are unorthodoxly compelling.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.