London has forever been obsessed with JW Anderson, at least since he came on the scene in 2008, declaring gender dead — an idea that’s since spread like wildfire across runways and wider culture in general. Yes, he wasn’t the first in fashion to do it, but one of Anderson’s skills is that he’s often the first of a generation to take a well-known idea and do it brilliantly.
Look at this collection for AW19. Chunky belts. Can you believe? It takes an utter master to wrestle the chunky belt from the claws of the glorious, but a little staid, Gok Wan and put it front and centre on the catwalk. And that’s what JW Anderson did — he brought back the achingly lame chunky belt and made it achingly attractive. Same goes for capes, chinos and shirt dresses — all of which found new life either through precision, giant new proportions or a collaging of flowing fabrics, respectively.
Anderson also manages to take the most beloved pieces of British fashion and twist them in a way that feels genuinely exciting. This season it was the trench coat — all anyone could talk about after the show — now with giant bell sleeves and a multicoloured houndstooth check across the oversized lapels. It was the update the staple needed, and people’s eyes widened when the coat emerged onto the runway, everyone instantly adding it to their wish list. Paisley sweaters, too, were given a revamp, with both print and fit bigger and better in Anderson’s world. Together with more chinos and the aforementioned chunky belt. Should you have asked last season, that outfit would have been a bust; now it’s a complete must.
Green, grey, beige; lemon, teal, black; gold, grey, fuchsia. Colours from across the wheel were paired, layered, all of it unlikely and wondrously satisfying. But this is Anderson’s skill: pushing things into unlikely places. Often it takes a minute — you ask, Do I love that, or hate it? — and every time it’s good news, and every time Anderson has taken something you never even thought of and made it your obsession. He did it with crochet, he did it with strange silhouettes, he did it with dick keyrings, and he’s done it again for AW19.
The battle with cutting edge clothes is so often their wearability. Of course it’s not always about that, and sometimes a boundary pushing piece will filter into your wardrobe subtly, rather than as a whole. But what Anderson does, every time, is create the perfect symbiosis between wearable and experimental. And he continues to push our wardrobes in the most expressive yet wearable directions. So dust off those chunky belts and grab that giant sweater of your dad’s — finally it’s all in fashion!