It's not that J.W. Anderson is creeping close to the edge with his men's collections. He's already pushed well off of it. "I feel like menswear has gotten to a point for me where it had to be thrown out the window and dragged back in," he said backstage after his show today. "There's something that has gone stale for a while in men's, and I think you have to blow it up—then you've spawned a look."
It wasn't that J.W. Anderson's men's collection today was feminine. It was downright womanly, a cross-pollination with his women's Resort collection, an extension of the mad-bad housewife women's collection for Fall. The fabrics were drawn largely from the world of womenswear—organza, taffeta—and many looks were short or tight or sheer. Each model wore a matching wig and charlady headscarf. Their loafers were chopped off into mules. "It's not about the boy, but more about the shape of the clothing," Anderson said. In the audience today, you could almost hear heads being scratched about an oversized, Pepto pink coat that buttoned on the bias to reveal an acre of thigh, or the bibs and suits in sheer, jacquard organza. But, Anderson countered, the thigh is "a part of a man that's quite macho, like a rugby player's thigh." Marc Jacobs, another man possessed of muscular thighs, made waves—but no apologies—when he wore a sheer lace dress to the Met Gala. It looked like a cousin of those Anderson showed.
Admittedly, the designer is fond, maybe over-fond, of provocation. "It all spawned from the idea of mothers sleeping with their sons," he said of this collection. (He's quite blasé, given that he titled the show Age of Consent). But there's a proud line of provocateurs who've toyed with—and discarded—the man/woman divide, key among them Miuccia Prada, at whose label Anderson got his start in fashion.
While the scratchers scratch, Anderson asserted that his sales are climbing higher than ever, and at the day's various shows, some of fashion's most respected decision-makers were wearing his pieces. "If they're buying something, they want to buy an idea," he said of his clientele. "It's worth it." He'll need to balance the scales a bit between the shape and the boy, but he doesn't want for ideas, nor the balls to put them into action. On the subject, those of several of his models today were on clear display.