In the ten years that JW Anderson has been at the helm of his namesake label, the Ireland-born designer has solidified his place in fashion’s hallowed halls through making clothes that achieve something paradoxical. While Anderson often references the past in his work – particularly through a fascination with 20th century art and craft – his designs never fail to feel authentically modern in sensibility.
They are garments that women and men (from this season onwards, Anderson has vowed to show combined men’s and women’s collections twice yearly) want to wear now. His A/W18 offering, set around a centrepiece of ceramic fungi by artist Martin Belou, hit the mark in a similar manner. “We need to go forward in an optimistic way, to change things, to make them exciting again,” said Anderson, backstage. Here, we take a closer look at his latest offering.
1. A low-slung waist is the only waist
Whether in handkerchief skirting, utility dresses in military hues or garments formed from diaphanous silk, there was only one waist to be seen on the runway: low-slung, and sometimes even dropping just below the hip. It was an off-key ode to the roaring 20s, when corsetry was thrown out with the smelling salts and women became breathless via vigorous Charleston-dancing, instead. The JW Anderson A/W18 woman is entirely free to move as she pleases, and comfort is key.
2. Don’t shy away from an element of novelty
Punctuating the muted khaki, black and taupe palette, were bold injections of colour. Sugary pink dresses met with aquamarine sequins; a whimsical combination of forest green, aubergine purple and navy stripes materialised out of nowhere. This made one thing very clear: these were not women to be messed with, but they were also unafraid to embrace a sense of novelty in the way that they dress – evidenced further in the accessories, which included tiny purses that sat on belts around the waist, or emoji-style doughnut keyrings. Wearing day-glo orange JW Anderson Converse doesn’t mean you should be taken any less seriously.
3. Make use of grandmother’s curtains
Print was minimal in JW Anderson’s A/W18 collection, besides a smattering of paisley in ruffled shirts that could have easily been re-purposed from grandmother’s curtains circa 1975. However, nostalgia this was not. Instead, it made for a contemporary Margot Leadbetter from The Good Life, eschewing her conservativism and joining the rally for intersectional feminism and progressive politics.
4. Don’t follow the handbag-carrying rules
Bags were held in a very particular manner. Notably, slung over the roundest part of shoulders, or with the handle looped round a wrist, the body of the accessory then cradled by the thigh with a certain degree of care. There is no need to follow the handbag carrying rules – a crossbody can be anything but. Anderson knows that you will look all the more interesting for it.
5. Forgo the mascara wand
Who can be bothered to put on a full face of slap in the morning? A lick of tinted moisturiser and concealer to quickly even skin tone, is all that is needed, as was proved in the show’s make-up looks. Today, it’s about filling in your un-groomed brows and just getting on with it. Lip balm is an essential, however, as is a lash curler. But there shouldn’t be a scrap of mascara framing your eyes – it’s too high maintenance.