JW Anderson RTW Spring 2021

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Jonathan Anderson referred to this collection as “fashion at its most frivolous, embellished, poetic, escapist and liberating” — and it was. But behind the flapper sparkles winking from a silk jersey tank top, the grand floral jacquards on peplum jackets and the ballooning floral print skirts, this collection was grounded in the here and now.

This women’s spring collection marks the second time that Anderson chose not to stage a runway event or even a presentation, preferring instead to send his “show in a box” to editors and buyers, and to speak to a new audience with a TikTok video. Runway — whether it’s physical or digital — is not à la mode, according to the designer.

“We are in an incredibly complex moment right now, and people don’t want fantasy — they want reality,” he said of his decision not to stage a show. “Modernity is not working on a digital runway show, but evoking what is really happening.”

JW Anderson RTW Spring 2021

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In a Zoom interview, Anderson said he wanted to peel people away from their screens, from the “monotony of the filmed catwalk” and to offer up something they could pick apart, touch and consider in their own time.

He offered up his moodboard — photographs, fabric swatches, lookbook pictures in a big book that was fastened by two shiny silver bolts. Those bolts could be undone — literally — with the pages, pictures and gorgeous layers of colored paper re-arranged or hung on the wall. (Anderson even provided a little brown envelope filled with string for hanging.)

As he leaned into this new and perplexing reality, Anderson also set out to refine a few classics. Women may have little occasion to dress up now, but they certainly haven’t lost an appetite for sensuality, a flattering drape or flat shoes made for walking.

Indeed, a whole swathe of this collection wasn’t sparkly, feathery or pierced with bejewelled rings and various other adornments. It was streamlined with some distinctive Anderson twists — a belted trench with a soft cowl neck, a long double-breasted gabardine coat with cargo pockets and fluted sleeves; floods of draped silk fashioned into capes, tops or trousers that puddled around the feet; slippers or flat mules topped with chunky gold hardware.

Anderson didn’t want this collection to be “tied to a moment” — but he certainly misfired there. This outing captured today’s mood: A shapely coat that will last for eons; shoes built for slouching around the house in style; and a ridiculously glamorous sparkly top to wear out for an early dinner and then, like Cinderella, have it back and hanging in the closet before curfew.

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