There were plastic inflatables of planet Earth hanging above, and black sand underfoot. In between, walked JW Anderson’s enactment of the wildly chaotic times we’re all living in. As politicians breach all precedents of civilized procedure, and the globe spins toward extinction, what can a fashion designer do but throw out the rules? “It became about how do we change the order, in how the way things go on the body?” he said. “Components that are not meant to go together, socks that don’t match, shoes that don’t match.”
Jonathan Anderson always comes at his collections from multiple directions. Being a Northern Irishman with a brand based in London, who also works in Paris, Anderson is a businessman who is feeling the very sharp pain of Brexit approaching. Seen through that lens, his collection read as ironic—a mad manifestation of arguments that are dividing communities and national identities. On foot, a Theresa May–like leopard-spot-patterned shoe, and the other a design from a totally different party. With rib-knit medieval hoods to top it all.
But Anderson is a savvy thinker amongst the mayhem. His collection, for all its stylistic upside downness—its bloomer shorts and school scarf-slash-sleeve fringed knits and animal-patterned knee-high leg warmers—also read as a coolheaded continuation of his brand’s signatures. Long cotton shirts, gilt concertina cuffs, striped knits, and, on the women’s side, an elaboration on his long, fit-and-flare silhouettes. “Romantic in a sinister light,” he called it. In a situation when everything else is falling apart, you need to be a fashion survivalist.