The new JW Anderson Spring-Summer 2024 Womenswear collection
When I remember the games I played as a child, I remember my hands were often dirty. I liked to touch the earth and clay, model with my hands, and create. In children’s games, we find the instinct for creation, for imagination. Using hands to create forms is a human impulse that goes back to our anthropological condition. Perhaps from this intuition, Jonathan Anderson started for JW Anderson’s Spring-Summer 2024 womenswear collection. Indeed, the collection, presented on Saturday during London Fashion Week, has matter as its starting point. It is no coincidence, then, that the invitation to the fashion show was basically a block of colored clay, the kind used in kindergartens for children to play with.
We find the same clay on the catwalk. It is with this material, in fact, that sweatshirts are modeled, and shorts open the fashion show. It is only the beginning of the vibrant reflection on the material and its potential that the British fashion designer brings forward with this collection. Compared to past seasons, Jonathan Anderson seems to have focused more on minimalism, on the essence of forms in relation to the human body. Thus, garments modeled with clay create an ironic dissonant effect when worn, as do nylon blouses and pants, which almost look like glossy effect balloons enveloping the models.
But JW Anderson’s playfulness means practicality and respect for contemporary dress codes. For this reason, jackets become wide, flared, and geometric, and streetwear is rethought in its forms. Cargo pants are inflated from the inside, with perhaps some reminiscence of the oriental clothing. The iconic bomber jacket becomes a large circular geometry that engulfs the body and opens up to explode into a cascade of feathers.
JW Anderson’s summer collection is not just about adding oversize shapes, however. The fashion designer himself said that this season he focused on reduction. Seeing is believing. More formal designs, such as long dresses, become an overlay of veils that wrap or the body, like reminiscences of ancient Greece. Or they become strict creations cinched at the waist to highlight the breasts, before opening into a rhomboidal cascade of fabric.
When it comes to footwear, Anderson was inspired by childhood memories in Northern Ireland: clogs and woven moccasins with rounded shapes. In JW Anderson’s childlike, enchanted universe, nothing is left to chance. In this dream world, some more experimental pieces could not be missed: skirts composed of rigid weaves of glittered pieces of fabric, or dresses with a sort of rigid substructure to dilate their shapes. A reference to nineteenth-century crinolines, or perhaps to the hula-hoop pastime?
Looking at JW Anderson’s 2024 summer collection is therefore like leafing through an old childhood diary. All the dreams, the magic, the enchantment of when we were children come back. We can relive those emotions by rereading our thoughts, which are neatly arranged on the pages in front of us. I think back to the clay block, but also to the Holland pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2021. On that occasion, Francis Alÿs had also used the universal language of play for an enchanted tale made of lightness. With this collection, Jonathan Anderson attempts the same path. A good lesson to look forward to tomorrow.