Jonathan “JW” Anderson: The Chameleon Creative Director
The idea of a “celebrity creative director” emerged in the late 80s and early 90s when luxury fashion became big business. People such as Tom Ford, John Galliano and Marc Jacobs went from being behind the scenes to becoming household names. However, this came with a lot of pressure as directors were expected to outdo themselves every single season. With spring/summer, autumn/winter, resort, pre-fall, couture and sometimes their own lines as well, they could be expected to produce up to 12 shows a year. There is a fine line between cohesiveness and homogeneousness, and with this huge workload, oftentimes this line was crossed and shows began to all look the same.
As is always the case, the true pioneers were the exception to this rule and Jonathan Anderson is the latest creative director to successfully produce starkly different collections for his independent brand JW Anderson and LVMH owned Loewe.
Yesterday in their Milan Men’s show, JW Anderson brought sexy back in an overt but playful way. Models walked down the runway with exposed chests and tight micro shorts in fun prints, styled with whimsical rubber-like boots. For the warmer looks the bare chests and micro shorts were still present, but produced in thicker fabrics and this time paired with fanciful swirl face paint.
The JW Anderson man is confident in his sexuality, doesn’t take himself too seriously and likes to have a good time. This collection speaks to that man directly, eye-to-eye, ignoring anyone else who might find him odd or “too much”. Playing with texture, colour, and styling, pushing against the stereotypical seriousness of luxury fashion, is a trademark of Anderson’s work.
Consistently there’s an experimental feel making his collections exciting, filling us with anticipation. The conversation-starting fish motif we saw in the womenswear SS23 made a return, in the rubber boots this time. Weird and wonderful accessories also came back, with pillows and plastic toads casually paired with the looks, as if there were a standard styling option. Interestingly, this unconventional, marmite-like approach to fashion, is very different to the refined (but still compelling) looks he produces for Loewe.
The JW Anderson menswear show stands alone as a work of art. The show communicates that since life can and should be fun, our clothes should reflect that. We should love and appreciate the bodies that we’re in and wear clothing as captivating as we are inside.
At the core Jonathan Anderson’s work is weird. His brain is wired differently and creativity flows seamlessly and seemingly endlessly out of him. This identity as a designer is felt with his Loewe work, without isolating his Loewe customer. This in itself is art.
Fashion should start a conversation, make you think, and above all be stunning. Jonathan Anderson ticks all of those boxes and it’s great to see a British talent continually doing so well. So I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I eagerly await all and any work he produces during AW23 fashion month.
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