Jonathan Anderson’s experience | BoF

LONDON — Jonathan Anderson should have climbed into bed in Milan, after showing off his latest men’s and women’s collections on Sunday night. His team of 30 is said to have traveled from London for the event. But the ongoing pandemic means it’s never been more true that life is something that happens when you’re making other plans.

Last week, with Omicron flourishing, Milan was dropped. In a last-minute twist, the show was swapped for a film filmed on Friday at the Scala Theater in King’s Cross, a seedy but holy venue that has been the scene of decades of bad behavior. Anderson remembered him fondly from his student days, which might have seemed like scant compensation for the change in plans if not for his positive attitude as team leader. “At the end of the day, you have to be like, ‘It’s going to be fine’ and ‘We’re going to do this collection even though we haven’t all taken flights to Milan…'”

Additionally, Anderson insisted, “I actually enjoy all of this because you make it up as you go, and then through it you find things.” Even though his optimism has been sorely tested over the past two years, it seems he was able to locate a silver lining. “I kind of enjoyed the last period for the reason that it’s not about the criticism or ‘Do people like this?’ It’s just about putting stuff out there and enjoying it, because I’m so lucky to still have a job.

If the initial decision to head to Milan for an actual live fashion show came across as a relatively orthodox move after all the radical alternatives to the live experience – show in a box, show in a book, show on a wall , even a DIY exhibition of images by Juergen Teller — which Anderson has been exploring for two years, it was actually meant to be the launch pad for an entirely new strategy.

The idea is still to build a new schedule to replace the four shows he was doing for his own label before the pandemic hit. (“For an incredibly small brand, it was really stretching our resources.”) So every January should feature a show for the men’s winter and women’s pre-collection, ideally in a different city: Milan was the plan. for this season, but it could be Manchester next time, or Tokyo. A traveling circus, thought Anderson. The rest of the year there could be a show in a box, or some other alternative – even a standalone women’s show in September. That was the plan, very experimental. “Maybe I was optimistic but I wanted a change of pace because I felt like I had done 10 years at this pace,” sighed Anderson. “And I was fed up.” And then, hello Omicron!

It’s a wonderful moment of experimentation.

Creatively, Anderson has proven more than a match for Covid. “Yeah, I think that was probably the most creative moment of my career,” he said. There’s kind of a complex blueprint for change there: how to infuse the conventions that the fashion industry seems so eager to resurrect with everything Anderson has learned. (Her show for Loewe in Paris last October provided a dazzling glimpse of the possibilities.) and how do you function within it? Especially when you’re a small brand, you try to use your media wisely so you can sell products when you don’t have the big brand budgets. And that’s where I’m in a unique position, where I’m in a big brand and a very small brand. You have many different types of reality checks.

The latest reality check at JW Anderson meant the designer spent a day cooped up in the Scala “just having fun with the team playing with this collection”. I’ve always thought that gaming was fundamental to his eponymous label. How many times have her clothes and accessories looked like beautiful toys! New favorites include a sequin football jersey. In the loneliness of confinement, after running out of things to watch on TV, Anderson found himself glued to a documentary about Cristiano Ronaldo. Not at all inclined to football, he was nevertheless inspired. “You find joy in living life and you take the time to realize that it’s the little things that end up on the podium.”

I also like the pigeon clutch. It reminded me of the whole Dada element of Anderson’s last Loewe show, and how Dada was an artistic reaction to the carnage of World War I. And also how timely a similar response to a world collapsing in conflict from all sides would seem right now. “I wanted a bag that was a pigeon that you opened up,” Anderson said. “It’s ridiculous but we live in ridiculous times.”

Ultimately, this is the classic Comme des Garçons response. Not why the sequined football top, the pigeon clutch, the knitted elephant, the inflatable bags and shoes, but why not?

Anderson compared his own label to a laboratory, “where we explore things in a very primitive way. From there, you can recognize what works, what doesn’t. It’s not about perfection. In the end, that’s what I started to like about my own brand again… It’s like a family boutique that managed to survive a housing crisis and a financial crisis. And we are still hanging on during the pandemic and Brexit. Ah yes, the other dark shadow hanging over the British fashion industry. “It’s not about being one side or the other, it’s just about now dealing with the ramifications of rebuilding a business in the global world but from an island, and it actually became a bigger burden on the process than I ever imagined.”

No wonder Anderson considers it almost like relaunching his brand, with all the naivety that entails. “As a team, we’re ready to fall in love with the idea of ​​fashion all over again by going back to a primitive way of putting things together.” Which was reflected in Sunday’s screening by genuine joy in both the clothes and their presentation. “I’m feeling super excited about the clothes right now,” Anderson said. “The pandemic is about experimentation because there’s so much going on, our ability to focus is like we’re goldfish right now. You might be like, we only need to do one show per year, or maybe we want to do 50 shows a year or maybe we’ll just do one look a month… Do whatever you want to do, because it’s an amazing time of experimentation.

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