J.W. Anderson made such a name for himself as a provocateur that it's been a surprise to find he's recently become interested in pretty. "I'm very into overtly feminine right now," he said at his new showroom in Paris, which you couldn't help notice is large and beautiful and has his name painted on the door. It's a recent acquisition since LVMH's investment in his company and his appointment to the head of the Spanish label Loewe. But Anderson, walking through the Pre-Fall collection—which he described as umbilically connected to the men's Fall collection—cautioned against drawing a correlation between art and commerce. "I hope we never become super-polished," he said. "Just because LVMH is here doesn't mean we have to change overnight. It's about a journey. It's not fake fashion."
Anderson, for good and for bad, is an adherent of fashion: the vertiginous ebbs and flows of it, the perennial quest for novelty (even while he pursues timelessness). He's built it into his process. He dives fully into one aesthetic only to reject it later, forming a daisy chain between menswear and womenswear that works in cycles.
Accordingly, the nylon-knit tunics (the more historically informed critics have been calling them tabards) that opened the men's show made an appearance here. Worn over long skirts, they had an appealing graphic line. Likewise the floral jacquards that appeared in men's as well. The real surprise was finding dresses and coats with long, inverted pleats. "I never have liked dresses," was his explanation, "so we're doing dresses." Some were worn with bubble-shaped opera coats that had the look of mid-century couture. (Apparently, they'd been inspired by pieces from the 1920s.) Add in the fact that Anderson is now doing his own bags, too—structured satchels and bucket bags, saved from out-and-out normalcy only by their squared-off handles—and you could almost believe Jonathan's gone straight, if a little heavy. The collection lacked some of the sweet lightness that made Spring a standout.
Anderson explained that Pre-Fall represented a chance to work the inspirations for menswear out of his system. "I think it's good to keep the men's and pre-collection close," he said. "We've always done it and it defines the brand. I like the cleansing when you get to the women's Fall collection, because you're so bored of it."