Wonderland.

PROFILE: ASTRID ANDERSEN

Oversized womenswear for men or undersized menswear for women? London’s Astrid Anderson doesn’t care. And it works

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Astrid Andersen is turning Japanese. Okay, so she only spent a week in Tokyo, but it had such a strong impact on her (“my favourite place in the entire world”), that she cites it as the main influence for her brilliant, lacey SS14 collection. Why? Well, partly because it’s so uptight. “People there hold a lot of views similar to those in Scandinavian culture – they have an almost anal appreciation of a simple, minimal aesthetic,” says Andersen. “Tokyo has two very opposite sides to it. There’s that very minimal approach, but there are these insane neon lights and dressed-up kids too. When I’m designing, I always try to find something in between the two.”

The relationship between the practical and the embellished is, and always has been, a central idea in Andersen’s amplified sportswear, so unsurprisingly Tokyo has been eager for Andersen since the very beginning. “I’ve been obsessed with Japan for a long time, because it’s where the first stockists whoever bought my clothes were from. So this was a trip to visit the people who have been so heavily into my stuff for so long.” Clearly, the super fans in Tokyo did not disappoint. “We had a party for a capsule collection, and at the event there were people wearing t-shirts I’d made literally two or three of in my room for my graduate collection. It was so amazing, it was quite emotional. You’re never going to get that first stockist who believed in you before any PR or hype again, it’s a very pure appreciation.” Clearly she’s as inspired by them as they are by her: “It’s so interesting to design something which I thought was meant to be very sexy, and then see it on these Japanese buyers and it looks totally different. It’s a whole new take on your original idea, which is great because otherwise what I do wouldn’t have any relevance.”

For SS14, she sent guys down the runway in bridal, practically virginal white lace, a few of them with only a pair of tighty whities to cover their modesty. There’s a sense of playfulness and complexity to her clothing that is so often either overlooked by other menswear designers or – perhaps worse – exaggerated to ridiculousness. With Andersen, it’s clear that she hasn’t simply set out to undermine the clichés of masculinity and femininity, or something equally A-level. “I think I’m part of a generation who actually doesn’t even think about that. There’s an even younger generation of guys who will put on a skirt, not thinking about it in a unisex, controversial way but just as a garment. That’s what I love about it; there doesn’t have to be any definition. It’s the same with gay or straight, it’s not even a discussion anymore, it’s just ‘whatever’.” And if you’re wondering whether she designs with women in mind as well, the answer is a resounding ‘no’. “I don’t think of my clothes as unisex at all, I think unisex is a term that’s completely irrelevant actually. I make clothes for guys because that’s where my vision comes from, and as soon as I let go, it becomes something completely different in the hands of whoever buys it. When I see a girl wearing something of mine, I think it’s very cool – but it’s not my starting point.”

Her first boyfriend, a basketball player who introduced her to Wu-Tang Clan, was a starting point, as are memories of what she wore growing up in a small town in Denmark. “I was looking at an old school picture from fourth grade and, honestly, every single one of us, 25 kids in a classroom, boys and girls, was wearing a multicoloured tracksuit. Seeing it now it’s like, ‘My God, what a statement, the girls and the boys in the same thing.’” Astrid seems suspicious of these “controversial” statements about gender, which so much of the fashion press are all too eager to tack onto her aesthetic. When I ask if she’s consciously dealing with gender issues, being a woman designing unconventional, often revealing clothing for men, she responds with a curt “no”. “Ultimately, I dress guys to look attractive in my eyes, and I’m sure guys want to be attractive as well. It’s very natural. Anyway, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m sure that women have been dressing their boyfriends for centuries.” Well, when you put it like that… Guilty.

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All clothing by Astrid Andersen AW14 and all jewellery by Astrid Andersen X Black Dakini

Photographer: Michael Mayren

Creative Direction: Elgar Johnson

Fashion Editor: Warren Leech

Words: Bertie Brandes

Hair: Mari Ohashi at LGA Management using Aveda

Make Up: Adam Burrell at The Book using Chanel Le Lift Serum and A/W 2014

Styling Assistance: Warren Leech and Tawfiq Khoury

Hair Assistance: Rogerio Da Silva and Wilson Fok

Models: Charriffe at Supa, Jazz, Troy and Mac and AMCK, Guido at PRM and Luke H at D1

PROFILE: ASTRID ANDERSEN

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