Suzy Menkes: Happy 30th Birthday Jonathan Anderson!
Next Wednesday, Jonathan Anderson – the latest wunderkind of British fashion – turns 30. But he gave himself a birthday gift in advance: a strong Summer 2015 collection.
The show was good, if not great, and it proved the extraordinary progress of a designer who started with menswear in 2008, showed his first womenswear four years ago, and is now also the creative director of the Spanish Loewe leather brand, owned by LVMH.
The leather influence was already on show, with giant waist-cinchers lapping the body, where JW Anderson’s experimental, papery fabrics might previously have been found. I was pleased to see a new focus on womanly curves rather than sharp angles, but I missed the previous play with digital-age materials.
The designer kept his message under the models’ floppy, broad-brimmed hats. But backstage he sent out a string of one-liners, saying: “pre-psychedelic”, “Britain meets France”, “mother and daughter”, “elements of abstraction”, and “Jacques Tati”.
This last reference was to the director and comic actor from quirky 1950s French films (although Tati’s trademark ‘Monsieur Hulot’ raincoat was nowhere to be seen).
There were cool mixes of tidy mademoiselle tailoring with a twist: gilded buttons on multiple neckties layered down a navy dress; or perfectly tailored sailor pants with the buttons at both front and back. They will surely sail out of the stores.
Jonathan Anderson has learnt fast how to make his penchant for weird cutting seem sophisticated and classy, as in a sailor motif of a giant leather collar spliced with yachting ropes. Other ideas were to play with male-versus-female by inserting visible bras, giving polite tailoring a seductive edge.
Much of the geometry was about scale: giant double-curl collars on a tailored trench. Or about texture, when a tailored version of a top and skirt was in terrycloth – bringing a whole new meaning to the idea of a bathing suit.
My favourite pieces were the simplest: a cotton shirt-dress or a dawn-pink satin top with neck wrap, bare midriff and draped skirt: chic in a French and an international way.