On the cusp of a live Milan debut, JW Anderson has had to settle for a digital show to present its FW22 Men's and Pre-Fall 2022 Women's collection. No matter. Life's a disco and stranger things have happened. Still, we can't but help think that a collection begging to be swallowed up by the throbbing, steaming and sticky walls of a club, like this one, would have been followed by an after-party to end them all.
We'll just have to make do with the show, where the clothes have graduated from playpen silliness into the playground of Scala nightclub in Kings Cross — a London institution.
Gender-bending statements are not new in 2022 but they are characteristic to JW Anderson, with past Menswear collections consisting of wool micro mini skirts and tunic dress, and somehow the designer manages to deliver something fresh to cling to. Polo shirts have lost their prep and have been primed for the hedonist prima donnas within us, bedazzled with sequins and merging into sleeveless one piece rompers for the menswear collection. It's a route that JW Anderson himself went down after a Cristiano Ronaldo documentary spurred him onto thinking about the hyper-masculinity that surrounds soccer, and thus polo shirts.
Midriff-bearing tops crafted solely from rubber bands in colours redolent of ball pits and confetti prove to be a playful, eye-catching statement alongside its sequined crop-top counterpart. Silver catsuits and tights are costume-like in their outrageousness, are fit for the dancefloor and a new generation cast of Skins. Hoop-hemmed skirts and tops, that the models clearly had to hula through to get into, verge on the galactic nowhere. And just when you think convention might sneak its way in, when the need for sense will strike, knitted turtleneck sweaters feature cutouts shielded by exaggerated stitches.
When it comes to accessories, the JW Anderson Chain Loafer is refreshed in hues of metallic blue, silver and pink, while riding boots offer no reprieve from the onslaught of colour arriving in turquoise, buttery yellow, and flaming red. Mary Janes are given their due, a theme we're seeing crop up at Milan Fashion Week with Silvia Venturini Fendi unveiling her own iteration of the iconic shoe at the Fendi AW Menswear show. And pigeons, the communal city pet, have been turned into props with a new outlandish clutch, a style only matched in frivolity by knitted elephants.
Both collections are tactile and united by an overwhelming desire to lean into the chaotic, the silly, and the unexpected. Puffers and shearling coat-dresses are an exercise in utility, bringing the kaleidoscopic club and the outside world together. Wristbands rear their plastic heads and hark back to the days of festivals, parties and clubbing, where we would savour our memories and refuse to remove the bands, a token of the joy that took place.