Splicing and dicing the DNA of menswear and womenswear is a standing preoccupation for Jonathan Anderson. At first it started mainly in the fabrication of garments; the gendered codes and connotations that linked and divided the sexes through cloth have been repeated motifs. Yet there were always hints of more to come, and now the experiment has culminated in both the materials and silhouettes of his Fall collection.
"This is my second real menswear collection," said Anderson of his latest offering, although, of course, there have been many before. He means that it's the clarity of his fashion vision that's crystallized here. The result is sure to divide opinion, and in many ways that is the point.
But write off Anderson as a mere provocateur at your peril; his agenda is more complex than that. The effeminacy of this collection—a kind of put-together sixties jolie madame made into a twisted jolie monsieur; think Séverine in Belle de Jour crossed with some of her kinky fantasy coachmen—is intended to reconfigure both menswear and womenswear, and to give a kick up the arse to the stale state of much of men's fashion at the moment. As he points out, "There is sometimes a very big difference between shopping and clothing."
And yet pull this collection apart and, as always, you do have something of both. In real life men do not regularly walk around derelict buildings at a stately pace, dressed in frilled knickerbockers to the sound of Angel Haze's hip-hop. But they do wear pinstriped, royal blue, and camel overcoats, and sometimes feel the adventurous pull towards double-face, lapel-less mohair coats in peach and baby blue (contrary to popular belief, men have sense enough to add their own trousers—they don't need a show to point it out). And there is always an appetite for the precision of great knitwear, such as his large-dot intarsia sweaters, or the homespun picket-fence jumper.
It should also be pointed out that this is the experimentation of a young designer dealing with his own signature line—as opposed to the marketability of a megabrand—and Anderson has adventurous young customers to match, each in turn finding out who they are. Womenswear has known this kind of experimentation for years. Now it is time for boys to have their turn, or otherwise be doomed to the terminal boredom of the standard "men's wardrobe."