Often clad in blue jeans and a simple white T-shirt, designer Jonathan William Anderson does not immediately look like the man responsible for leading a London-based fashion revolution. The 28-year-old designer, whose eponymous line J.W. Anderson has consistently wowed editors and buyers in recent years, can be credited alongside other Brit designers like Meadham Kirchhoff and Martine Rose as a member of the next-gen brigade. "Fashion needs to be violent," says Anderson of his deeply experimental collections. For his Spring '13 menswear show, he sent down the runway asymmetrical, billowing, neon-pink peacoat-dresses, futuristic dental hygienist-like ensembles and lace-adorned get-ups that recalled a little boy playing dress-up in his mom's closet.
Anderson's career trajectory has been roundabout. He grew up in Northern Ireland and came to the U.S. in 2001 to pursue acting at the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. This sparked an interest in costume design that eventually led to a degree in menswear at London College of Fashion. In 2008, after working as a window dresser for Prada, his androgynous menswear label was born. Two years later, he launched his first women's line. "I feel modernity lies within blurring the lines," he says of his signature ability to break gender codes. "I use men's as the stepping stone for women's and vice versa." This ongoing symbiosis has landed his duds into avant-garde-loving emporiums like Colette and Opening Ceremony.
His Spring '13 women's line, filled with frilly, distinctly girlish touches, is considered to be Anderson's most commercial to date (it's accompanied by a coquettish TopShop diffusion line), and makes for a surprising follow-up to his most audacious menswear runway show, which incidentally, he claims was inspired by mothers sleeping with their sons. Explains Anderson: "I want to keep challenging myself every season but I think people are becoming more aware about the brand and the risks we take. I don't feel what I do is to shock, but rather to engage."
Runway photographs by Rory van Milligen.