One of the breakout menswear stars of the last few years, Irish born J.W. Anderson turned his hand to womenswear last season, imagining the punky girlfriend of the JW Anderson man stealing his clothes to winsome effect. The collection was a hit and now sits proudly alongside his more established menswear line. For S/S 11, the emotive and unadorned photographic work of Diane Arbus’ protégé, William Gedney was the impetus for dreaming up a story of a boy and girl on an American roadtrip, experimenting with LSD along the way. For the film for the womenswear collection shot by Sharif Hamza and styled by Dazed’s Senior Menswear Editor, Robbie Spencer, Anderson worked with Swarovski, shining light through its famed crystals to create a powerful hallucinogenic effect caught on film.
Dazed Digital: Your womenswear collection sold amazingly well last season – were you surprised by the response?
J.W. Anderson: I think I was surprised. We decided to do a women’s collection because a lot of the stores that were carrying our men’s were asking for it but it was still just meant to be a small thing that just grew. Now just as much effort goes into the women’s collection as the men’s, so now we are doing two collections a season. It’s a lot of hard work, so I see it less of a surprise but a sense of relief that it has been well received.
DD: Does androgyny interest you or is it more the idea of a girl borrowing her boyfriend’s clothes?
J.W. Anderson: It’s not so much the idea of androgyny that interests me, I don’t want it to be as calculated as that. It’s more about the idea of lovers borrowing each other’s clothes, or wearing that jumper a friend left behind. It’s about wearing clothes that tell a story and an emotion, it’s not so much about gender.
DD: You’ve been posting pictures of William Gedney’s photographs on your blog – was that an inspiration for both the menswear and womenwear collections?
J.W. Anderson: His work is held by the Duke University in New York, and we worked closely with them and his archive. His whole approach was inspiring in itself - he took pictures of the Cornett family in Kentucky over several years, and he supported them throughout his life. I think his images have such an honesty about them - that is what I like the most. His work was the starting point for the collection.
DD: You are someone who’s embraced film as a medium to tell a story about the collection. Can you tell us about the film collaboration with Robbie Spencer and Sharif Hamza?
J.W. Anderson: I think film is a way of making fashion relevant to as many people as possible - removing the elitism that the fashion ' world ' has - not everyone is interested or can relate to the catwalk. It’s a way of communicating the ideas behind the collection, something away from just clothes. Sharif shot our first look book, and I really love his work, Robbie styles the show - so when we decided to do a film it just seemed natural to work with this team. Think psychedelic, and crystals and tulle with doilies – it’s all a bit random. We are working with Swarovski this season so we wanted to explore that - using crystals to film through and de-fract the light and distort the image – it’s all about reflections. It totally exceeded my expectations.
Film Director Sharif Hamza
Photography Ben Toms
Stylist Robbie Spencer
Hair Tomo Jidai at Streeters
Make-Up Hiromi Ueda at Julian Watson
Casting Shelly Durkan
Follow Robbie Spencer on Twitter here @RobbieSpencer