The Secret of Life is in Art. JW Anderson SS21

This is one of those JW Anderson collections that need no special explanations or expansive moodboards. It’s just so, so distinct to Jonathan Anderson‘s edgy style codes, that you can’t mistake it with anything else, really. Instead of a livestreamed fashion show, the press received a package wrapped in Oscar Wilde quotes: a book of papers and prints, and artful photographs all screwed together – and an enclosed gold coin, embossed with another Wilde quote (“the secret of life is in art”). Wilde proved both the literal and metaphorical means to unlock this collection, because, according to Anderson, “he was able to criticise the world but embrace the poetic reason within it; to look at the political, artistic, environmental landscape of his time and have a dialogue with it”. Equally, the writer’s affinity for the one-liner, he continued, felt particularly resonant during a period when that mode of communication reigns supreme. “This government has come up with so many – and I thought, how radical Wilde would be now with his ability to summarise a moment. Right now, people’s attention spans are very short, so things need to be very concise. And the clothing had to read like that, too: something easily digestible like a tuxedo, but with a puffball skirt belted onto it.” This collection was, essentially, an array of JW Anderson one-liners – not basic, but signature. “You know the look and you know that this girl belongs in this house,” he said of a loose-fitted pleated suede top layered over a panelled handkerchief skirt, or a white satin peplum blazer paired with matching cargo shorts. There was jewellery – enormous oversized earrings based on birdcage mirrors, or bejewelled brooches – which could transform almost anything into the spirit of the season and a wealth of easy-to-wear sophistication. But, alongside the fluid cuts likely to be required throughout spring-summer 2021, there was some exceptional tailoring, too. “It was important to grab onto that, onto things like the way in which we’ve explored tuxedos over the past five years, and really nurture it”, Anderson continued. Goodie!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.