Men’s – There’s Optimism. JW Anderson AW20

For the autumn-winter 2020 season, here’s where you should go for the best coats: JW Anderson. At his name-sake label, Jonathan Anderson offers gorgeous blanket-wrap poncho-like coats, made in a number of variations: classic grey wool, in paisley print, in hounstooth… some come accessorized with heavy gilt chains swathed as belts (the designer also used them as shoe jewelry and as sewn-on half-necklaces). A pictogram of a house on fire, a print that appeared on knits and in the general imagery of the collection, was Anderson’s take on AIDS activist and mixed-media artist David Wojnarowicz, who sprayed these on derelict East Village buildings in 1982. Anderson is known for bringing almost forgotten art to the ambiance of his shows – both for his own label and at Loewe. But this rediscovery struck a deeper chord for the generations protesting against establishment intransigence in the face of apocalyptic crisis. It resonated in Anderson’s remark at the end of the show. Amid the anguish of the AIDS fatalities in the 1980s and 1990s – which Wojnarowicz documented, fought, and eventually succumbed to – “it felt like the end of the world,” the designer observed. “But it wasn’t. As much as some of it’s really heavy, there’s an optimism. There will be a solution.”

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Odd Elegance. JW Anderson SS20

For the second season now, Jonathan Anderson seems to be experimenting with odd elegance at his name-sake label. There’s something both ritualistic and futuristic about his draped tunics with jewelled bras tied on with rope straps, and chunky, crystal studded belts worn to one side of the hip. Who is this woman? Where is she heading to? There’s something unexplainably refined about her, and definitely elusive. Tailored jackets and coats with contrasting lapels where also embellished with rhinestones, in circular patterns, while the mainly earthy colour palette was contrasted with the least expected detail: silver and gold lamé. Non-chalance is the new norm for spring-summer 2020, that’s visible across countless of shows we’ve seen up to date. The fringed, knitted and highly crafted elements felt Loewe-ish, which is actually new to J.W. Anderson (the designer never mixes his codes between the two brands he designs at). Still, they work in this collection very well, even though they might not match at a first glance.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Design Exercise. JW Anderson SS20

For his spring-summer 2020 collection for men (and resort 2020 for women), Jonathan Anderson took an approach he applies at his Loewe. While discussing J.W. Anderson‘s latest collection, the designer mentioned that it’s “not about a styling exercise, but a design exercise.” Part of it was working on cutting away the sleeves of trench coats and tailored jackets to construct geometric wings and leave a drape in the back. He said he’d developed that silhouette after the “ideas about the ’40s and billowing shapes” that he’d shown previously in his womenswear collection. The deconstruction of the tuxedo dressing continued into lapel scarves and dress shirts. There’s no gendered distinction in these clothes. “All sizes can wear that,” he said. Meanwhile, the less ‘formal’ part of the collection consisted of patchworked knits, cable-knit head-bands, shoes made of multi-coloured felt (depicting a sort of pointilist landscape) and flowing, crotchet shawls and dresses. All this feels very warm-hearted, artisanal,  beautifully folkloric even. While Anderson nails each season at Loewe, lately I wasn’t that convinced about the work he did for his namesake brand. But this collection is one of his best.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.