You can’t say Jonathan Anderson didn’t warn you. The obvious step from that Autumn/Winter 2015 women’s collection, which reminded me so much of Eighties Freemans catalogues and Winona Ryder’s ghastly nouveau stepmother in ‘Beetlejuice’, was always going to be flouncy Duran Duran/ Pierrot proportions – or should that be A Flock of Seagulls, given the repeated feather motifs, the wide-shouldered sleeveless tops, and a word search print picking out the word ‘flight’?
It’s been a steep and swift climb to the top for Anderson. When I attended one of his earliest catwalk shows even I wouldn’t have dreamt he would become as lauded and, presumably, as well remunerated by LVMH as creative director of Loewe, as he is. Obviously I admired his grab-bag of influences, ingenuity of fabrication and confrontational gender play, but having a frame of reference beyond my Instagram feed means that, whilst impressive, I didn’t actually find any of it as bleeding edge as some younger writers.
So, JW Anderson’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection is kind of an Eighties redux. The Eighties as seen through suburban windows and Smash Hits. Multi-pleated judo pants, cuffed at the ankle; boxy knits with voluminous sleeves; and a black, cropped double-breasted jacket with straps on the lapel seemingly ripped straight off a Blitz Kid’s back. Other graphics recall computer games, or Jean Paul Gaultier’s Junior diffusion line.
They say you shouldn’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. Well Anderson’s patent Mary-Janes aren’t 1760 yards away from the Louis Quatorze courts Vivienne Westwood proposed for men many years ago. That comparison to Westwood isn’t without foundation, both designers are fashion magpies, plucking their influences from throughout history and applying them to a modern context. Anderson’s real skill is arranging these into something free of irony, then selling them back to a generation already overexposed to Eighties nostalgia.