Jonathan Anderson is this generation’s aesthetic-defining designer. Responsible for the second wave of fashion’s fascination with normality, his work occupies the curious space between the uncanny and the familiar. “As a designer, you’re meant to pick up on a feeling, and there’s something in normality that feels off-kilter,” he says. A modernist for whom gender is “a dated concept”, Anderson’s work tears apart preconceived notions of masculinity, uncovering a whole new landscape for the resurgent menswear scene. From call-centre power dressing for boys (in secretary blouses and stacked patent heels) to revealing midriffs and exposed clavicles in cropped wool jumpers, he’s defined a new kind of eroticism in exploring the erogenous zones too often ignored in menswear. While his womenswear lines have a perverse undercurrent of sexuality, they are very much for women who don’t dress with a man’s gaze in mind.
This year proved pivotal for the designer. After gaining investment from LVMH for his own namesake label, he took the reins at Loewe. “My first decision was to take it to the streets,” he explains. Before he’d even revealed a garment, he plastered his first campaign – featuring rare archive imagery by Steven Meisel inspired by Alex Katz – over the streets of Paris. “I think we live in a culture now where people receive and appropriate imagery in a different way, so I wanted to tackle that. I was looking on Instagram and these (archive) images were popping up – they mean exactly the same as they did 20 years ago, they were selling a dream. I wanted to be able to take that aspect and juxtapose it with the street, to give a kind of reality to people. Some would know it was old imagery, others would think it was new. The idea was to jackknife this company and take it forward to another place.”
By the time he’d showcased his first menswear collection for the brand (followed by his SS15 womenswear show), it was clear he was set on completely redefining the codes of the house. Going against the image of the solitary designer, Anderson’s vision is created by a tight-knit network of collaborators, including Jamie Hawkesworth, Benjamin Bruno and M/M (Paris). “They create imagery that’s about a character – it’s like a dream sequence that’s completely surreal but has this rawness to it,” he explains of the aesthetic they’ve collectively pioneered. “There’s always a generational movement of image-makers – I don’t think a designer can exist without one.”
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