Back to Basics?
In the hands of a different designer, a collection boasting matching shirt and short sets printed all-over with primary colour hearts might be considered a little outré. When you’re talking about Jonathan Anderson, however – whose abstract odysseys have previously featured floor length orange sleeves and giant cartoon snails sliding up pea coats – this guest show slot for SS18 at tailoring Mecca Pitti Uomo was positively restrained. Emphasising, for once, wearability over the bricolage conceptualism for which he’s justly famed, Anderson paraded a series of looks that felt like wardrobe essentials for the warmer months: sensibly cut shorts in navy and khaki and white T-shirts (some with subtle branding) that were just the right side of boxy; mid wash denim jeans and jackets with an easy fit; slick leather biker perfectos up top and, on the feet, the first incarnations of his surprise long-term partnership with Converse.
Pop Art Play
Nonetheless, don’t go thinking this was just a long line of elevated basics; Anderson’s surreal streak was (thankfully) still alive and well. That was clear from one look with patched denim and boldface printed tops and knits, which, riffing Warhol-style on vintage packaging logos, proclaimed playfully, “Wear J.W. Anderson in Florence”. More self-referential still were propaganda parody T-shirts featuring the face of the designer himself wearing a WWII helmet and holding a coffee mug branded with – you guessed it – J.W. Anderson.
That rather disorienting plunge into a Jonathan Anderson themed mise en abyme aside, there was also more familiar terrain for the designer in the form of mixed media T-shirts which transmuted into nautical knots as they moved down the body. Or, even better, traditionally belted macintoshes subverted with fraying sleeves cut from that recurring heart spangled motif. In a year where Comme obsession and homage is at a fever pitch, Anderson’s knack for deconstructionist college is what makes him one of the most exciting and consistent heirs to Rei Kawakubo. “The Brand That Loves Back” – that’s what the propaganda T-shirt joyfully declared. Well, between the chunky Aran knits, timeless suede trucker jackets and weirdly witty iconography, there was no shortage of things to keep on loving J-Dubz for. That explains all the hearts, then.