Sometimes, it’s great when nothing makes sense. “Neurotic, psychedelic, completely hysterical” are the terms describing the latest Loewe collection by Jonathan Anderson. After months of digital presentations, the designer was on a mission to mark his comeback runway show at Loewe with a massive creative change. “We’ve had the pandemic, and now we have to come out of it different,” he said. “I think it’s a moment of experimentation. If you’re going to reset after this period, you need to allow a moment to birth a new aesthetic. Start again.” It took place in a purpose-built “blank space.” No props, no artworks, no available rabbit holes of reference to divert attention: just clothes. Three long black column dresses to begin with. Minimal – except for the fact that each had a metal structure beneath, each one thrusting a different 3D geometric shape from stomach, shoulder, hip. The notorious “lumps and bumps” Comme des Garçons collection comes to mind instantly. Then three more ankle-length tube-dresses, one in a blurry pale blue and flesh-colored print; one pale gray, the next primrose yellow. So, was Anderson about to offer up an elegantly calm, relatively straightforward palate-cleansing antidote to the complexities and confusions of stepping out into the world again? Not so fast. He has a restless mind, always fighting against the too-obvious response. “In a weird way, I wanted the collection to be hysterical,” he said. “So that there’s a tension. Because this is a strange moment.” The collection had no moodboard behind, but Anderson provided one clue behind the passages of pastel blues and pinks, the swags and wraps of chiffon – and the wing-like shoulder structure that suddenly threw the collection off the straight and narrow. It was a picture of The Deposition from the Cross, painted by the Italian Mannerist artist Jacopo Pontormo in Florence 1528. Anderson liked all the “ hysteria” of the figures in the painting; something resonated. Back to the collection, there are even more exciting details to love. His fresh-start innovation combined ribbed jersey T-shirt material with golden breastplates – an echo, perhaps, of Claude Lalanne’s work for Yves Saint Laurent in the 1960s. There was an elevation of everyday fabric – white tanks terrifically teamed with chiffon balloon pants—and conceptual reworking of athletic tracksuits in taffeta. “Elevating the normal” as Anderson put it. On the feet were strappy shoes with heels surreally made from birthday candles, bottles of nail polish, a bar of soap. Bags in lavender or red were made from stiff teddy-bear fabric. Nothing made “sense” – but that was the daring and the fascination of this collection. We’re living in surreal times. Jonathan Anderson gets that, and is reflecting it back. Such experimentation with fashion is truly rare these days. Bravo to him for that.
Juergen Teller, in all his near-naked glory, fronts JW Anderson’s spring-summer 2022 lookbook. The photographer had convinced the designer that he should shoot himself thus in his underpants with tires. For what is surely an in-joke satire on the Pirelli calendar (and the Italian tire company’s pin-up tradition), fitting right in 2021. Jonathan Anderson has collabed with Teller to produce printed matter, posters, and portraits of contemporary artists to send out in place of fashion shows during the pandemic. For the designer, the relevance of Teller’s work to the current zeitgeist is that there is “no retouching and no filter. You show things for what they are. You show being body-positive. You have to say, well, this is who I am.” Teller’s well-known, art world-sanctioned predilection for naked self-portraits predates the so-called post-pandemic situation by a long chalk. To Anderson, handing him free rein to work with models on the calendar project for spring 2022 satisfied his instinct for “something very blunt” and the fact that “you have to have humor.” Anderson continued: “Before the pandemic, I was showing a lot to gravitate attention. But what I’ve learned is that you have to have a very focused edit. You make your own pace, show what you want to show. My biggest fear is coming through the pandemic and not having changed.” He’s noticed “how excited girls and guys are, coming through this being more body-confident.” What that boiled down to is the “precision” of pieces like the semi-transparent, circular-embroidered, handkerchief-hemmed dresses and a tan leather shift, fastened with buckled straps. The crafty quirkiness of JW Anderson’s signatures is there, all right, in details like strands of upcyled plastic woven into shoulder-strap fringes and mesh mini-dresses. Looking forward, he says he’s serious about the “reset” everyone was talking about a year ago. His Instagram page was cut to three pictures on the day of the collection’s launch. “I don’t want to come through this pandemic being the same JW Anderson as before.” Quite a teaser for what may be to come.
Jonathan Anderson‘s message for spring-summer 2022 is the following: go out, go clubbing, go raving, dance, have fun! And we listen. Inspired by the joy of nightlife and the freedom of club culture, his ecstatic new collection for Loewe is shot by David Sims and presented in book alongside a sister publication featuring the work of artist Florian Krewer. This season, shapes are both abstract and straightforward, meanwhile colours explode in a riot of saturated hues, high octane neons and acrylic shades. Sports-inspired pragmatism meets fluid forms, setting a party-ready, swinging tone. It’s clear it’s the menswear season of delightful hedonism (just take a look at the cosmic hippies by Rick Owens) – a sort of post-lockdown revenge, with a spiritual, even esoteric twist.
Partly digital, partly physical, men’s Paris Fashion Week starts today. The JW Anderson spring-summer 2022 (and women’s resort 2022) look-book was shot by Juergen Teller, who perfectly captured what’s on Jonathan Anderson‘ mind this season. “Caught in the moment, when sexuality awakens. There is palpable ambiguity, and provocative wrongness, to his dressing choices“, Anderson described the guy he pictures in this playful, bold offering. The collection hits a juvenile note with colourful and hedonistic clothing as a mean of self-expression that blur the lines between stay-at-home, sports and club dressing: “The kind of glorification of being who you are or what want to be: the idea of privacy of the individual“. The line-up’s instant must-have? All the strawberry knitwear, for both him and her. The designer looks forward to full re-emergence, and is clearly ready to celebrate the good days that are coming!
All collages by Edward Kanarecki. Look-book photos by Juergen Teller for JW Anderson.
Last season, Jonathan Anderson went for a small collection of ‘un-commercial’, couture-esque dresses and full skirts. For autumn-winter 2021, his Loewe has more of the ‘ready-to-wear’ aspect, yet it still has that signature, fabulously-eccentric-lady style. It’s all about bold colours and mood-changing zigzaggy prints here; the curiosity of avant-garde shapes; perfectly placed, succulently colorful accessories; and what Danielle Steel is feeling about fashion. Say what? Go to Loewe’s website, and there, to be sure, you’ll hear the world’s best-selling novelist in a podcast with Anderson. This is “the ‘why not?’ era,” she remarks. “I’m much more into fun things now…. I like silly stuff. I guess I get more eccentric as I get older…. Life is serious enough!” The collaboration with Steel came about through Anderson’s connection with her daughter Vanessa Traina. In a continuation of his printed-matter lockdown show alternatives, he came up with a Loewe newspaper, within which is a trail of the first chapter of Steel’s new novel, The Affair. Neatly enough, it’s a tale about a New York fashion editor in chief. The paper, with all the pictures of the Loewe collection, is “being distributed to a million readers” including readers of The New York Times, Le Monde, and Le Figaro. In other words, it’s time to embrace the fun and euphoria of fashion again – or at least to be able to imagine ourselves into the time when we can. “As much as people always see the cynical in luxury fashion, there’s something in it that releases endorphins that make you feel good,” Anderson said in a Zoom call with Vogue. For the shoot, he rolled out the yellow carpet in Paris at the Le Train Bleu restaurant, his own office at Loewe, and a private members’ club off the Champs-Élysées. Elaborate settings for Anderson’s skilled composition of bold silhouettes, his subtly wearable pieces and a gamut of bags and shoes that deliver quirk to the adventurous and classicism to the conservative. “I don’t see this as a collection about fantasy. I think it’s about this idea of projecting what a new reality will hopefully be,” he said. “I think fashion is going to be important in the next while, in making people gain the confidence of going back out and dressing up again. The whole point of this collection is: believe it, and it will happen.”