J.W Anderson was showing in Milan this season for Pitti Uomo, as guest designer of the Italian Pitti Immagine organisation. Being the current star that he is, his show for spring drew a lot of attention, and also a lot of surprise for it’s complete change of direction. Anderson’s avant garde approach to fashion has seen him challenge the very norms of gender specific clothing, presenting men’s collections that include frills and bias cuts and off the shoulder items more closely associated with women’s fashion. However for his spring range, a rather conventional looking collection was delivered to a much confounded audience.
Speaking to Vogue, Anderson stated that the range was a return “no-fuss fashion basic-ness, that was “trying to strip everything back”. And adding candidly that this was the first season that he’d tried everything on himself. That omission follows his previous revelation that he personally was loosing faith in the concept of luxury, buying more mainstream clothing himself rather than following fashion-y trends. But isn’t that the standard case? Very few designers actually follow the very trends they set themselves, opting instead for more neutral wardrobes. But that doesn’t mean we, as an audience, don’t need their stimulus in ours.
Anderson’s men’s range shows a complete shift, but despite this, still offered some delights. In particular the crafty appliqués, the wide leg jeans and the multitude of summer trench coats with their patchwork finishes, were extrememly covetable, and totally wearable, which perhaps was the most surprising thing of all.
Off White’s collection for spring was another note in the tumultuous political score the world has found itself writhing in. The streetwear label pulled fabrication influence from the refugee crisis, an issue particularly felt in Italy where Off White have their clothing manufactured. On one hand, pulling influence from rescue gear associated with a massive surge of refugees, desperately crossing the Mediterranean, and often perishing in the process, could be deemed as particularly crass. But on the other, it could be seen as a silent proclamation of acknowledgement, of sympathy, and of solidarity.
Right from the outset, Off White’s collection stood for the latter. The collection played out under giant projections by Jenny Holzer, who selected poetry from Anna Swirszcynska written during the Warsaw uprising, alongside words direct from conflicts currently happening in Syria and Palestine. This sombre, but moving literary background gave a sense of gravitas to the collection, pairing words with clothing and making the analogy of walking in another man’s shoes feel so incredibly real and relevant.