The rumour of a 10am queue forming outside of J.W. Anderson's 1pm show was enough to cattle-prod London fashion week into a hundred-yard dash to make it to his venue earlier-than-early. The rumour proved to be false, but it stands as a not-so-subtle indicator as to the hysteria surrounding Anderson's first official catwalk show. No-one was missing this for the world.
Anderson loves a cryptic title - this one was called 'Chamber of Isolation'. It sounds all too mumbo-jumbo and Kafka for words, but Jonathan (as his friends call him) is a clever fellow. He may talk big, but when it boils down to the clothes themselves, he speaks in layman's terms: a touch of utility in padded nylon and pinstripe, a hint of kink in a trio of all-rubber suits, and some lumberjack mohairs for good measure. His feet were firmly on the ground, figurative and literally given the towering brothel-creeper shoes that gave the models something steady to rock on.
This was all familiar territory. Anderson covered much the same in his first pre-collection back in January, a neat dovetail between his intricately-worked Spring/Summer show and this sleeker, more Minimal offering. Here the interest was surface rather than texture, the slippery textures of vinyl rutting against suiting fabrics or crystal houndstooth checks. There were also some new shapes, a V-neck, slightly cocooning sweater and pyramid dirndl hitting mid-thigh, like a cartoon of fifties couture. It was, however, a cartoon you wanted to wear. Right now.
The immediate appeal of all these garments was what leapt out alongside the fact that, despite his youth, Anderson has already crafted a well-honed aesthetic for himself. The nylon-quilted helmets (think Darth Wader, rather than Vader) could have come from no other hand in the capital. But there's undoubtedly a healthy market for them. Anderson is acutely aware of the commercial restraints around his work, but he thrives on them rather than seeing them as a choke-hold on his creativity. That's refreshing, that's why his business has more than tripled in the past year, and that's why it's set to soar yet again with this instant hit of a collection. Commercial, creative, you name it. The boy has it all. Wunderkind. Thats the word I'm searching for.