JW Anderson AW19 review: The London Fashion Week favourite didn't disappoint

It was a collection that found its power in the movement of fabric and cuts

Monday 18 February 2019 22:19
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A model presents a creation during the JW Anderson catwalk show at London Fashion Week Women's A/W19 in London
A model presents a creation during the JW Anderson catwalk show at London Fashion Week Women's A/W19 in London

Ever since he appeared on the scene and launched his menswear brand in 2008, JW Anderson has always presented one of the stand-out collections of fashion month.

Inventive, forward-thinking and yet, somehow, utterly wearable, the British designer’s work remains at the bleeding edge of what London fashion has to offer – and thank goodness he branched into womenswear in 2010, or there would be a noticeable gap in the city’s offering. Often, after sitting through hundreds of shows it can be a relief to see something truly original. And it speaks to Anderson’s continuing innovation that his is one of the select few shows that sees formidable US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour perched front row.

Last season, the 24-year-old designer broke from his usual unisex offering to present an entire womenswear collection. For autumn/winter 2019 it looks as though he’s standing firm. And for a designer who has previously said he dislikes designing them, the dresses in this collection were undeniably the most interesting part. Some started life as oversized jumpers that finished in a chevron at the hips and then became liquid silk, a few saw hems and necklines woven loosely with different coloured chiffon scarves that hung at the knee and chest, others were spliced with varying lengths of bright silk that flapped and waved like flags in the wind. “The dresses with the thread going through, they just happened,” said Anderson backstage after the show. “We were improvising colours, it’s kind of like we were taking a huge needle through the fabric. And it just stuck.”

A model presents a creation during the JW Anderson catwalk show at London Fashion Week Women’s A/W19 in London

Meandering between piles of rocks placed on a thick pile cream carpet, models exuded sophistication through the jovial garments. Classic greys and blacks were weaved in with pops of fuchsia, yellow and electric blue. A standout piece in particular was a shocking pink dress that looked like a full-feathered frock – a pink Big Bird, if you will – (feathers have shined through as a theme in several shows this season) but at closer inspection it was actually made from hundreds of tassels.

Anderson’s work has always eschewed the nostalgia that other brands lean on for inspiration, instead exploring how fashion can continue to evolve forward. It was a collection that found its power in the movement of fabric and cuts, emphasised by silk lengths tied to stilettos that fluttered and twisted with every step. Capes flowed, backs of dresses billowed like parachutes and fronts of other dresses saw ruffles designed to shimmer.

Anderson’s signature distorted proportions and architectural shapes even made an appearance and saw jackets with enormous wing-like shoulders, bell tops worn with bell skirts and smart trousers made from a voluminous yardage of fabric that those who came of age in the Noughties will recall from their disastrous reaction to puddles.

Fans of the designer will know he always provides a more financially accessible (and moreover commercially savvy) option in his collections and this season he didn’t disappoint: his chain-covered shoulder bags will likely become the next must-have accessory. Most garments were cinched at the waist with thick black leather belts and models wore chunky gold chain chokers that will give Theresa May a run for her money. The hats might not catch on immediately though (we suspect those were for his own enjoyment) solid leather baseball caps were worn suspended over the head on frames, but they were also offered as quirky shoulder bags for the safer shopper.

Though Anderson’s collaboration with Converse has been seen adorning feet everywhere, there were none to be seen for autumn/winter. But it won’t be long until his latest iteration – a spacey platformed pair seen in the spring/summer 2019 collection – will be available.

A model presents a creation during the JW Anderson catwalk show at London Fashion Week Women’s A/W19 in London

For a designer as prolific as Anderson, it is always impressive how he manages to whip such flawless collections out of the bag, whilst also continuing as creative director at Spanish luxury brand Loewe. The workload must be immense, but the brand shows no sign of abating.

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