The role of a [fashion] designer is to reflect what is happening in the world, observes Jonathan Anderson, speaking from the Paris offices of LOEWE where he is creative director. Anderson, who is also the founding spirit of irreverent London brand JW Anderson (the W stands for his middle name William), is nominated for Designer of the Year in the coming weeks. The Fashion Awards: presented by TikTok, in recognition of his work on both labels.
Over the past 18 months, Anderson’s forceful approach of pushing aside tensions between fashion and culture, exploring what fashion means as much as what it looks like, hasn’t slowed down. Since he created JW Anderson in 2008, his approach of marrying often rather difficult clothing with balloon shapes, men in dresses with his obsessive interest in the arts (he created the LOEWE Craft Prize in 2016) has saw Anderson working more as a curator. Art is reacting to the present moment, and I think fashion is too, he says.
For the past seven years or so he’s juggled two brands since fashion group LVMH invested in JW Anderson and gave him creative control of LOEWE in 2013 and it’s a task he seems totally out of hand. They are two different landscapes, he says. I edit them It has become natural for me to be able to combine two different brands, one that has my name on it and one that doesn’t. Working between Paris and London helps. London is on the new one. Paris is on the bench. Having this combination sharpens what I do.
He recently cast Gillian Anderson in a LOEWE ad campaign, dressed Dan Levy for the Met Ball, collaborated on a series of photographic projects with Juergen Teller, including photographer modeling car tires, recorded a podcast with Danielle Steel, built the JW Anderson collections from the legacy of Oscar Wildes and has collaborated with various emerging artists. A JW Anderson SS20 patchwork cardigan worn by Harry Styles became a TikTok sensation, prompting Anderson to release it as a knitting pattern. Meanwhile, her hit LOEWE Puzzle bag (worn by Julianne Moore and Beyonc) is currently on display at the V&A. And an eighth JW Anderson collaboration with Uniqlo featuring Peter Rabbit prints, rugby shirts and plaid blankets will launch tomorrow.
My job is ultimately to share my obsessions, Anderson explains. How does he choose his collaborators? They must have an uncompromising personality one way or another, he says. Gillian Anderson and Danielle Steel certainly are. The artists Gilbert & George, with whom he worked in 2018 on a collaborative project, likewise.
Ditto Schitts Creeks Levy, whom Anderson describes as possibly one of the most magical people I have ever met. He has this way of being excited about you being excited, which is such an amazing gift. For the Levys Met outfit, Anderson, who has long been interested in queer activist and artist David Wojnarowicz, adapted his works, including F * ck You F *** ot F * cker, 1984, as part of the look. Levy said the couple wanted to celebrate queer love and queer visibility while reminding people that there is still a long way to go.
Born in Northern Ireland in 1984, Anderson first pursued an acting career, which morphed into an interest in costume, eventually studied menswear at the London College of Fashion and graduated in 2005. He then worked at Prada as a visual merchandiser, developed rapidly. as a London fashion star and in 2012 produced collections for Topshop and Versaces Versus. I remember visiting him in the early years in Dalston, where he sat surrounded by Italian Vogues, chain-smoking and talking about how quickly he grew weary of his own creations. Behind the scenes of his shows, his mind will practically dance in front of you as he recounts his inspirations.
One of his first landmark collections, Men’s Fall / Winter 2013, featured men in bandeau tops, ruffles and shift dresses. Anderson says that in these early works he did not deliberately examine gender narratives. But I was wondering why do we force people to choose what to wear? We must free the idea of wardrobe! He was won over by the notion of ahead of the curve of a shared wardrobe. He recently wrote: Over the past decade the rules of the genre have been broken. The youngest do not want any more division or definitive borders. Sidenote: The designer himself appeared in a striped dress of his own design for Hero magazine.
Anderson’s choice of Soho as the location for its flagship JW Anderson store was a no-brainer. As well as reminding him of his college days at Tottenham Court Road, he loves the energy of the region: there is something about being around the energy of Soho that sums up what JW Anderson is. This idea of looking at the genre, how we see ourselves, the culture of young people, the complexities. Back on the catwalks this fall to show off his LOEWE collection for women SS22 in Paris, the designer had mixed feelings. It was exciting. It was confusing to be honest. It’s quite difficult to go from a few to a lot of people, but I felt like it had to be done.
The models emerged from the floor into a specially designed white space, dressed in a collection that included columned dresses that protrude from the hip, striking metallic chest plates, and shoes with heels resembling broken egg yolk or shoes. birthday cake candles. I was trying to turn to clothes to express things that you can’t express, Anderson said. I wanted the shapes to be something incomprehensible, there are times when you don’t know what you’re looking at or how something was built. This was largely the base. Like giving birth to a new idea.
As part of Anderson’s approach to sustainability, he launched Eye / LOEWE / Nature, a range focused on upcycling. But he knows that there is still a lot to do and that this is a permanent field in which fashion must unite. It is the role of all of us to face it, he said. Industry must work together. He needs leadership. Government support. It’s going to take a lot of technology [for fashion] in the next few years to achieve goals, but it is possible. The good thing about fashion is that it will go where the consumer is, and the public wants things that are sustainable.
Likewise, its partnership with Uniqlo aims to reach a wider audience: I don’t want fashion to be alienating and only seen by a certain demographic. Finding new ways to talk to customers is important, and it doesn’t always have to be high fashion.
During his career, the designer has won several British Fashion Awards, including a double victory in 2015 for male and female designer of the year. In this year’s nomination, he says he’s honored to be considered, although joking: I think anyone who’s been able to produce anything creatively should win an award right now! It’s a time to really support each other.
For Anderson though, at the end of the day, he wants to do his job. You have to remember that there will always be another collection. The minute I run out of curiosity, I won’t be doing this job anymore.
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