So let’s embrace it - Jonathan Anderson | Sunday Observer
The future is going to be difficult.

So let’s embrace it - Jonathan Anderson

4 October, 2020

The past few weeks have showcased a particularly curious moment for fashion: an array of shows without audiences, films directed remotely, even seasons skipped by megabrands. “I was really worried about doing things this way for the second time… and now I’m like, thank God,” laughs Jonathan Anderson about his decision to revive his July alternative to a runway: a “show in a box”, directly dispatched to the homes of editors around the world.

“Fashion is about modernity in its moment, and when I look at shows as a digital reality, they do not speak to me at all. As much as they are spectacular there is something that feels incredibly old, or detached, about it… and I don’t want to see gorgeous models in a gorgeous building wearing essentially clubwear when I don’t know when I’m going to go again to a club. This is 2020 and it’s a nightmare. So let’s find another way.”

(Incidentally, of all the designers I’ve spoken to recently, Anderson was the only one to openly discuss the cost-cutting measures of this way of showing; one which, he says, helped ensure he could keep his team employed).

Oscar Wilde quotes

So instead of a livestream, we 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”), which allowed you to unfasten it and lay it out on your floor, or affix it to your walls (string was enclosed, too).

Wilde proved the literal and metaphorical means to unlock this collection, because “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,” reflects Anderson.

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 one-liners – which isn’t to say that the looks were basic, but rather the sort that immediately semaphore the brand’s off-kilter elegance; its proclivity for historic silhouettes made modern; and its experimental quirkiness. “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.

Spirit of the season

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 (let’s all assume we’ll be working from home for a while now), 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 (incidentally, his smash-hit chain-link loafers – 2020’s favourite footwear – made a standout appearance, and appeared evolved into slides).

We’ve seen plenty of brands double down on their core codes this season, but Anderson made his offering appear fresher than most, oscillating between “control and abandon” with bursts of glorious decadence set against poised restraint. “I feel like we are in a state of control but our minds are abandoned,” laughs Anderson. “But that’s not negative – we’ve never had so much time to think, and so much to think about. Sometimes you need to be abandoned to realise what you could lose.”

This was a collection that spoke to the times, both materially and in its presentation. “There’s only one one-liner I’ve liked recently: ‘This is a marathon, not a sprint’,” he concluded. “This is a moment which is going to change the world forever. We cannot pretend life will be the same. The future is going to be difficult. So let’s embrace it.” That pragmatism was alluring – and the clothes imbued with it even more so. If this is the year of the one-liner, then Anderson’s ought simply be: nailed it.

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