London Evening Standard - 2021-11-25


‘We have to break free from the idea of gendered clothes’


THE role of a [fashion] designer is to reflect what is happening in the world,” observes Jonathan Anderson, speaking from the Parisian offices of Loewe where he is creative director. Anderson, who is also the founding mind behind the irreverent London-based brand JW Anderson (the W stands for his middle name William), is nominated for designer of the year at next week’s The Fashion Awards, in recognition of his work at both labels. Over the past 18 months, Anderson’s energetic approach of pushing at the tensions between fashion and culture, exploring what fashion means as much as what it looks like, has not slowed. Since he set up JWA in 2008, his approach of marrying often quite challenging clothing — think balloon shapes, men in dresses — with his obsessive interest in the arts (he set up the Loewe Craft Prize in 2016) has seen Anderson work more akin to a curator. “Art is about reacting to the moment, and I think fashion is about that too,” he says. For the past seven years or so, he has juggled two brands — since fashion group LVMH invested in JWA and gave him creative control of Loewe in 2013 — and it’s a task he seems thoroughly unphased by. “They’re two different landscapes,” he says. “I edit them… It’s become natural to me, being able to articulate two different brands, one that has my name on it and one that doesn’t.” Working between Paris and London helps. “London is about the new. Paris is about the established. Having that combination sharpens what I do.” He has recently cast Gillian Anderson in a Loewe ad campaign, dressed Dan Levy for the Met Ball, collaborated on a series of photographic projects with Juergen Teller, including the photographer modelling car tyres, recorded a podcast with Danielle Steel, built JWA collections out of Oscar Wilde’s legacy and collaborated with various emerging artists. A patchwork cardigan from JWA SS20 worn by Harry Styles became a TikTok sensation, resulting in Anderson releasing it as a knitting pattern. Meanwhile, his hit Loewe Puzzle bag (carried by the likes of Julianne Moore and Beyoncé) is currently on show at the V&A. And an eighth JW Anderson collaboration with Uniqlo — featuring Peter Rabbit prints, rugby shirts and checked blankets — launches tomorrow. “My job is ultimately to share my obsessions,” Anderson explains. How does he choose his collaborators? “They have to have a personality that


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