J.W.Anderson, spring 2017 – text by Silvia Bombardini

Dear Shaded Viewers and Diane,


“Boys like Peter aren’t afraid of wolves” croons David Bowie in his 1978 narration of Prokofiev's 1936 tale. It was described as benevolent and charming when the LP came out, but in the hands of J.W.Anderson for spring 2017, it can’t help but pick up a somewhat more sinister edge, as most fairy tales do with 80 years of hindsight. Or it could just be J.W.’s influence, as well. From the speakers, a number of characters are introduced – the bird, the duck, the cat. One after the other, they walk the labyrinthine rows of a very narrow catwalk, bracketed by very high white walls, wearing canvas or navy jumpsuits, droopy lapels, patched knits, laced-top trainers and chequered prints that are just a bit too vivid and bleeding out of their grid, nods to the late seventies. Sweaters come with floor-sweeping sleeves: "what kind of bird are you if you can't fly?" said the bird to the duck, “to this the duck replied, what kind of bird are you if you can't swim?". The pierced handbags from his womenswear range are back in more shades and sleeker, and a recurrent motif features a multicoloured, long-haired, hooded-eyed character smoking a cigarette across long shirts and cardigans. That could be an abstract Bowie portrait or just J.W.Anderson’s fashion freeform, you shouldn’t try to explain everything. But there are enough childhood references to drive the theme forward, such as jigsaw puzzle patterns, big aviator glasses, and on the much hyped weekend of the Queen’s birthday, toy crowns. More playful than predatory, but the wolf is always there too. As a frosted glass tchotchke on top of bracelets, or as the dancing golden silhouette of Anubis – wolf-god of Egypt, and embalmer. Huge quilted bibs are layered throughout the collection, perhaps to suggest its appetite. Remember: Peter will capture the wolf but not until the duck has been swallowed alive.


Photos above by Daisy Walker.


















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