Irish designer Jonathan Anderson has been courting controversy and inviting criticism ever since he set out on his own with his J.W. Anderson line in 2008, sending boys down the runway in full quilted skirts and shaved mink moccasins. Today, he’s siphoned that gender ambiguity into a recurring conversation between his men’s and women’s collections—stories begin in one and end in the other—each idea a building block in the spare, futuristic wardrobe he’s quietly shaping. “It’s very difficult to find new all the time,” said Anderson. “We have to take a snippet of the dialogue onto the next one, so it’s a running kind of story.”
In his latest outing, for Men’s Spring/Summer 2014, Jonathan chose the torso alone as his design playground—manipulating spongy tunics, sheer tanks, and boleros with knots and pinched necklines, biceps wrapped in knit and leather like a straitjacket. His sleeveless constructions at times lengthened or shortened the silhouette; however, the odd, abbreviated effect of his midriffs continued throughout—echoed in the slicked hairdos ending in a crimped frizz to the swimming contrast of flared trousers and a pointed boot. The idea of both transparency and negative space arises—where details traditionally should be but aren’t, or perhaps are hidden, revealed, reversed or lopsided.
To capture the early morning scene before the 9 a.m. show, British filmmaker Alexander Ingham Brooke went behind the scenes at London Collections: Men exclusively for Interview, crafting the video Ruthless out of his footage in an intimate portrayal of the intense, adrenaline-fueled organization of the backstage mechanism.
“When I arrived, the backstage was shrouded in light and darkness,” explains Brooke. “I could see the boys changing, torsos swaying in a chiaroscuro light; it looked like a scene from Il Greco or Caravaggio. Their uniform shellac-slick hair and ruffled fringes further painted the classical scene. Despite the androgynous models and design elements, the collection still gave off a sense of something very masculine and vital. I wanted to capture the Spartan nature of the boys, the sense of visceral abstraction and tension.”