It's been a notable February for Jonathan Anderson, even if the month hasn't entirely closed out just yet. Last week, his signature Loewe molded bodice cupped none other than Rihanna's bust as she performed for her internet-breaking Super Bowl half time show, and now, in the thick of London Fashion Week, Anderson has put on one of his biggest shows to date, in collaboration with one of his personal heroes, Scottish dancer and choreographer Michael Clark, for Fall Winter 2023.
In the centre of Camden's Roundhouse stood enlarged cubes sporting some of Clark's most memorable and controversial posters. One bright green cube featured a large drawing of a penis while another read “Enjoy God’s Disco,” mimicking the Coca-Cola logo. Weaving through them, were the models clad in tributes to both the groundbreaking choreographer, and Anderson himself, spanning his 15-year long archive.
There were literal references to Clark's costumes – like a pair of yellow Jersey dungarees featuring a smiley face – and simple moments that evoked a branding exercise, where t-shirts, tote bags, and a glittery, distressed sweater were printed with "MICHAEL CLARK" in bold green font. "looking back is not something I do very often," Anderson posted on his Instagram story shortly following the show, "but occasionally it feels necessary as a way to move forward."
"Sometimes I think all roads lead to Michael Clark – for me at least, but I imagine also for many in this room." He continues. "Michael Clark is not only a choreographer of bodies, but of British culture at large." He goes on to astutely explain fandom as "completely personal, frequently irrational, often embarrassing." and, instead of making the obvious call to include the rather overdone idea of a dance performance within the show, Anderson chose to subvert exactly what you'd expect one to do when collaborating with a world-renowned choreographer, and let the iconography of Clark's career speak to his legacy alone.
As for his exploration of his own archive, it gave Anderson the chance to rework some of his pieces from the past 15 years. Simple grey suiting was of note, properly tailored and darted at the waist to create the slightest bit of exaggeration; tweed trousers, jackets, and coats were left with distressed hems; Anderson's padded, tubular cuffs and collars were applied to slinky long sleeve tops, while green and orange feather boa trims were offered over khaki dresses.
There was a refreshing air of wearability to the first portion of the collection. Don't get me wrong, Anderson's surreal offering is one that we drink down with fervour each season, but for those who are slightly less bold with their personal style, it's fun to see that there might be a perfect grey suit to wear with our pigeon clutches. As the exits continued, the more Anderson played with Clarks references and his own weirdness, joyfully.
Working back, a dress made of what looked like Tesco bags filled out Anderson's quota for a viral moment; tonal skivvies were wrapped over one arm, creating a label effect with different slogans on them, there were PVC pants in green, orange, and yellow, and fluffy little boob-tubes with pockets situated directly in the middle of the torso.
The collision of JW Anderson and Michael Clarke is one that feels as though it is at risk of being too noisy, yet, predictably, Anderson's knack for restraint pulls the corners in, tightens everything up, and spits out whatever is not needed to make the point.