Jonathan Anderson isn’t really a designer who takes a look back at his previous work, but for JW Anderson‘s autumn-winter 2023 collection, he had a moment of retrospection. He came about it through a collaboration, or rather a creative dialogue, with the Scottish choreographer Michael Clark, whose famed subversive performances blurred the lines between ballet, gay nightlife, and fashion performance in the early 1980s. The giant billboard graphic of a penis as the show’s venue was part of that conversation. “In September of last year, we had a conversation with Michael, we’ve been trying to do something for while – and while looking through his archive, I was like, ‘Well, I can’t look through someone else’s archive without looking through my own. And I decided to take one element from every single collection of the last 15 years and try to work out a way in which you would merge two archives.” Clark, he added, isn’t crazy about looking back, and nor is he – but he forced himself. “I wanted something which was about how do you kind of reconcile the past, and how do you deal with what you have done, because ultimately the job of a designer is going through a series of rejections of things. And it was really nice to kind of work out ways in which you could break everything. And maybe improve on them.” Fans of Anderson will now get a chance to get their hands on revisited reissues of his greatest hits, like the kangaroo-pocketed bustiers that now come in fake furry chenille. His big experimental voluminous shapes, coats in subverted country checks, and bound-arm knits came out, interspersed with tributes to his hero. At one point, a best-seller JWA anchor-logo sailor stripe t-shirt was simply over-printed with the name Michael Clark in luminous green lettering. The ability to create great merchandise while often doing things that will fire the internet at the same time has always been central to Anderson’s talent, and has sent him right to the top in Paris with his role at Loewe as one of the most significant designers of our times. It had been fun to look back, before moving on, he remarked.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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