Some designers are very straightforward about their inspiration and the purpose of a given collection. Other designers are coy and cryptic and even when one asks one doesn’t get a clear answer. Then, there JW Anderson who seems to delight in creating as much confusion and humor in a collection as he possibly can. I mean, a designer has to find places to have a little fun when they’re responsible for two major labels and countless partnerships. He doesn’t ever seem to leave his studio so it makes sense that he would find ways to have fun while at work.
So, he says this collection is about the gaze. More specifically, how we perceive things, the way things appear and disappear in our imagination, how things that represent a specific concept to one is seen differently by another. What everyone was gazing at, however, and not really wanting to admit it, were the harnesses on several of the ensembles placed directly over the bustline creating a specific emphasis that may or may not have been intentional. If this was a collection about gaze, he made it almost impossible to not gaze first at that particular area. Perhaps he should have had models wearing signs reading, “Hey, my eyes are up here.”
Mind you, not all the ensembles had a harness and what others were thinking was not what Anderson would admit. With a coy grin, he said after the show, “I was thinking about the iconography of a daisy flower,” Anderson shrugged. “There isn’t an underlying message. It’s just about looking. Maybe we should just enjoy the idea of looking, enjoy the experience.”
Right. Tell your spouse you were just enjoying the experience. See how well that goes.
When one finally wrests their gaze to other things, one sees that Anderson is playing with volume, a frequent theme this season, and chunks of material that are intentionally not extra shiny, not tightly tailored, capes with colored yarn, and crystals by the truckload scattered everywhere from those afore-mentioned harnesses to belts and collars and around cutouts at the waist.
Here are a few samples from the collection.
Anderson’s models walked in and out of and around a display by Canadian artist Liz Magor whose inflatable pieces contain cast-off pieces of childhood such as troll dolls and a velveteen rabbit. Anderson said, “I liked what she was trying to say about… the experience of looking. How we look at things, the idea of how we perceive things, how we look at textures and how we see jewelry, how jewelry becomes armor, or becomes more sensual and how it can be worn in a different way.”
There is a copious amount of detail in this collection, right down to the way footwear is wrapped around the ankles differently from one model to the next. With so much to see and observe, perhaps one might do well to have multiple viewings. Certainly, what makes it to stores this spring is worth a second and third gaze.