“To Market, To Market”: J W Anderson Menswear Autumn/Winter 2012

On most J W Anderson‘s menswear shows, audiences seem to spend a longer amount of time engaging in a collective subconscious appreciation of the looks that take to the runway than actually examining the clothes for their ingenuity and technical proficiency. If this bodes well for Anderson’s stylists and editors of the runway collections, it also provides a glimmer into how positively the designer and his garments are perceived by the fashion establishment’s psyche. 

In other words, by focusing their discussions on the superficial elements of each show, fashion industry members reveal that their analytical gaze has gone beyond accepting the eccentric and whimsical nature of the personae and playful styling tropes that Anderson constructs for the runway promotional campaigns. Instead (or so we, at The Style Examiner, like to believe), their attitude is based on focusing on a dissection of the rich sartorial tapestries that one of the currently most talented voices of menswear chooses to reveal only subliminally in his collections.

True, Anderson sometimes includes unusual hair styles and flamboyant accoutrements in each collection that not many men would be seen sporting. For his menswear Autumn/Winter 2012 collection, the two-third cropped and flared trousers, bob hair dos, and head gear inspired by fishing hats caught the attention of the audience and instigated debate for days; if anything, for their easy dubious taste and shock value against the fashion value system. However, when one pauses to examine the collection beyond these humorous guises, one finds a range of highly accomplished garments.

The daring palette relied on bright oranges and greens anchored by a predominant bright white. To suggest a hint of Gallic influence, accents of navy and red were added here and there. This was playfully incorporated into the collection in the form of drawings of cockerels printed on a jumper and a relaxed suit. Some garments, such as stunning jumpers in tan leather and padded-effect stitching, provided seductive touches to the range.

As has been expected of Anderson, the range of knitwear for Autumn/Winter 2012 was one of the focal points of the collection. Thick wool jumpers were combined with a number of strong outerwear such as coats and jumpers made from leather or artificial fabrics, whereas the padded and layering effects of apron-like in subtle asymmetric lines brought a purposefully understated touch of elegance. To strengthen the referential nature of the collection, Anderson adopted visual and geometric influences from Optical Art and the De Stijl movement in order to illustrate the contained illusion of minimalism. To top it all, and to keep viewers wondering, pineapple brooches were ironically added here and there as the most common accessory to be expected in the fashion runway context.

Overall, J W Anderson revealed a strong collection in the bigger pictures that it chose to hide in the smaller and louder details. For those who saw beyond it, this was a manifestation of menswear creativity at its best for Autumn/Winter 2012 that fed the senses. For the rest, all that was left on the runway was a puzzling assortment of references to cockerels, fishmongers, and pineapples in an illusory (and perhaps lost) metaphor of the fashion show as commercial market.