In 2013, fashion wünderkind, J.W Anderson, poster-boy for androgynous dressing said that he doesn’t consider fashion to be an art form. Fans of his work would find that pretty hard to get to grips with, his designs are sculptural, eclectic and of the moment. Now, announcing a collaborative exhibition named “Disobedient Bodies” which will open at Wakefield’s Hepworth Gallery in March 2017, he is set to reveal some of the key influencers of his work, many of whom exist in the art world and beyond.
Anderson is the first designer in history to be named both men’s and womenswear designer of the year at the British Fashion Awards, an honour about which he had this to say;
“I want to thank all designers, past, present, future, which ultimately I get inspiration from. We live in post-modernist fashion and I’m honoured to be on a stage that Karl Lagerfeld was on, who is my biggest hero, and who makes me believe that anything is possible.”
Clearly, his inspirations come from all over the place, and his bold and confident designs have in turn had a titanic impact on fashion today, in a relatively short space of time – he only launched his eponymous label in 2008.
Here we look at some of fabled designer’s biggest influencers and collaborators.
If you follow Anderson’s personal Instagram account – which, let’s face it, you obviously do – you’ll have noticed that interiors are just as important to him as fashion. A beautiful ceramic table setting here, an ornate occasional table there, it’s no surprise that Anderson looked to legendary 1960s interior designer in the lead up to his last womenswear collection, FW16. “The freedom of the individual to make his own choice and the vast range of possibilities from which he may choose” is a pretty succinct summary of what Anderson is about, and Hicks’ quote was translated from page to catwalk by way of a multitude of fabrics, textures and patterns; choices galore.
Hawkesworth is one of Britain’s best loved fashion photographers and is a long-term collaborator of Anderson, shooting all the brand campaigns. Anderson also cites Hawkesworth’s photographs as an inspiration to him whilst designing; indeed the pair seem artistically to be a match made in heaven and their shared vision seems to meld perfectly as one.
J.W Anderson’s primary show and campaign stylist since 2004, the dashing Frenchman has basically helped define what the brand is today. Bruno is involved in every aspect of the design process, an unusual position for a stylist but one which has forged the distinctive architectural aesthetic and pushed the brand to new realms of desirability. Alongside Hawkesworth and Anderson himself, Bruno’s meticulous and detail-orientated approach to styling has been the driving force behind the intelligent, modern and witty image and has helped to make it one of the most coveted show tickets every single season.
The sculptor and artist famous for his wood and bronze depictions of languid figures is an obvious stimulus for The Thinleys, a zine co-created by Anderson and Hawkesworth for Man About Town in 2015. The Thinleys are basically Morph in knitwear, only a hell of a lot more creepy. The emphasis is on joints; elbows and knees tugging at the fabric of the pieces, contorting them into shapes which are both fluid and bumpy, just like a Moore sculpture.
Love or hate J.W Anderson, there are some pieces you’re bound to be familiar with: the giant, leather fisherman style hats of SS15, the frankly iconic Puzzle Bag for Loewe and the boxy, bucolic tops featuring landscapes by textile designer John Allen back in ‘14. The tees; slit necked and cap-sleeved are amongst the most recognisable of Anderson’s work, as much a credit to Allen’s exquisitely woven pastoral scenes as to Anderson’s sharp cutting skills. The pair have also produced a range of beach towels, bags and scarves for Loewe.
IAN DAVID BAKER
J-Dubs is a full on, self-confessed photography addict. He also seems to be more than a little bit obsessed with gender and sexuality. Put the two together and who do you get? Ian David Baker, the photographer famous for capturing London’s gay culture in the 1980s. Last year, Anderson was responsible for curating a selection of rare and never before seen Baker prints, selling them on his own website. Baker’s work is often #NSFW – much like some of Anderson’s – but the prints chosen for this sale included not only the evocative male nudes, but group shots (clothed, mostly) and coastal scenes.
The leap from mega legend Fran Lebowitz to the teeny tiny bras of J.W Anderson’s SS16 womenswear collection seems like a bit of a stretch, the writer and speaker is more easily associated with a shirt and blazer than leather lingerie, but believe it or not she was the starting focus of this game-changing show. Anderson was captivated by Lebowitz’s dissection of the meaning of creativity, and how fame ruined the world, in Martin Scorsese’s 2010 documentary film, Public Speaking. Exerpts from her musings were included in the show soundtrack; her well-known New Jersey twang intermingling with Rihanna’s “Only Girl in The World” in a way that could only have been dreamed up by Anderson.