JW Anderson is more a curator than a designer. Sure, this year marked his formal curatorial debut, with a well-received show, Disobedient Bodies, at the Hepworth Wakefield, but he's been 'curating' for over a decade, since he debuted his magpie-esque mentality and keen eye for a good reference at his very first collections. He’s the ultimate example of the designer as creative director - less cutting or draping, more collecting and citing. Sure, ‘curated’ is an overused word in today's fashion landscape, when bloggers ‘curate’ rails of highstreet garb or glossy Instagram accounts. But with Anderson it’s appropriate. This season, he hammered home these credentials with even more vigour than usual with a show set that comprised of a central arrangement of artworks by some brilliant talents - Isamu Noguchi, Franz Erhard Walther, Anthea Hamilton and more. They all fitted aesthetically with the sun kissed glow Anderson likes to bathe his collections in - note the warm browns, earth tones and sandy hues. His shtick is becoming the handmade - things that look crafted by artisans in far-flung corners of Europe or handed down from era to era. It’s an ethos he’s becoming more committed to during his time at Loewe - unsurprising given the craft opportunities afforded by the leather house. His palette now rarely pops but offers a subtle warmth.
Anderson’s garments often look like propositions rather than clothes. They are ideas. It would be hackneyed and inaccurate to call them artworks, because Anderson is commerce-minded, but they have the feel of a work half made, a concept beginning to be explored. Some pieces looked like they’d just been tacked together. The strongest looks in this collection were the purest - the billowing loose dresses - perfect for museum attendees and art aficionados. They provided a nice antidote to the clutter and gimmicks that can dominate London Fashion Week - styles that have swelled in popularity thanks to Alessandro Michele’s decision to put the weight of Gucci behind maximalism. There was none of that here. One long white dress - better for the beach than the museum - looked divinely simple. That said, there were a couple of odd additions - some of the shorter, more saccharine styles jarred.
Models walked towards the artworks in a winding circle, looping round and round. I thought of the cyclical nature of fashion - the constant reinventions and remodelling. The wheel keeps spinning, but Anderson is keeping pace.