There are a few signatures designer Jonathan Anderson has picked up lately—and indulging in the particularly surreal, definitively bizarre is one of them. You only have to look at his recent work for Loewe and J.W. Anderson to see that.
The spring 2023 J.W. Anderson collection was no exception. This season, his show took place inside the Las Vegas Arcade in Soho during London Fashion Week. The sound of waves crashing, keyboards clacking, and ’60s synth sounds played as the various arcade games lit up the runway inside the darkened space. What came next was a procession of looks that demonstrated the designer’s dedication to perplexing oddities, as well as what felt like a nod to mother earth, transience between IRL and digital worlds, consumerism, and capitalism.
The first look: a t-shirt, complete with an oversized clothing tag with text that read like a newspaper headline. Next came dolphin-printed bodysuits, oversized keyboard keys tacked to little black dresses, lemon-yellow frocks with hints of wrinkles, a fishnet dress that dragged across the floor, tropical turtlenecks with palm dresses, and tops that were designed with the waistband of jeans as the collar.
There were plenty of hints at that state of existence between the phone screen and your real life, as well as what appeared to be commentary on consumerism and its effects on our planet. Garments touched on the ocean—there were shark fins in vibrant blue and deep purple on the backs of a t-shirt—while some pieces felt silly upon first glance, but turned out to be decadently deranged upon second look. Think: dresses made of plastic trash bags adorned by trapped fishes, upside-down sweaters hanging low as dresses, their shop hangers still attached to the bottom.
But, of course, it wouldn’t be a J.W. Anderson collection without a few pieces that felt perfectly primed for an everyday wardrobe moment: slip dresses with one shoulder, sequined cut-away numbers with asymmetric hems and gowns that bared the hips didn’t feel completely detached from the collection, as they still incorporated the washed-away, beach vibe.
Was this a message about waste and earth and the future state of a new reality, or just another surrealist fantasy illusion by Anderson? With the retro-futuristic globular shapes we saw in the second half of the show, it was enough to make one wonder. Bulbous bubble hems and Space Age structures in mirrored silver felt like the pinnacle of the collection. The final look that closed the collection was a tribute to Queen Elizabeth II—a printed black tee inspired by mourning posters seen around the streets of London.
It has become eminently clear that TikTok maximalists’ influence has undoubtedly touched high fashion. You’ve likely seen one of @Myramagdalen’s videos on the app, old keyboards lining her backdrop; she’s a fan of pinning dated tech objects, like computer mouses and robot toys, onto her outfits. If her account and J.W. Anderson’s recent collection are any indication, we’ll soon see more and more fashion references that capitalize on the nostalgia of technology from the early and mid 2000s.