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London fashion week: Old becomes new again

Listening to Jonathan Anderson backstage speeding through all the ideas that mill around in his mind when he creates a collection is a lot to process, just like his shows. His collection, one of the early highlights of London Fashion Week, was a journey that took us from deconstructed dresses to Tudor doublets: “I quite like the idea of women wearing something from that most masculine, aggressive period in history and making it look so light and modern,” he said in reference to those puffy, slashed sleeve jackets that Henry VIII might have worn. “I think the shape is empowering and makes a woman feel like a warrior.”

Anderson then riffs on the relics from our sartorial heritage with references in the collection to curvy cuts and deconstructed silhouettes; tablecloth linens; Matisse-style prints and airbrush colouring for dresses galore; padded knee trousers; knitwear with quirky padded rolls on the cuffs and hems; utility jackets and fabrics that look heavy but are really light. It sounds confusing but there are two clear messages. This is the season of the J.W.Anderson dress and the doublet jacket.

His best looks were his cleverly cut-on-the-curve silk dresses in pretty airbrushed colours, and linen dresses with tablecloth hems. He is proving a virtuoso with his cutting and draping.

Rather than being cut in regal velvet those Tudor-inspired jackets, in linen and cotton drill, with their lightly padded slashed sleeves are more suited to the modern urban lifestyle.

Deconstruction be it unfinished pieces laced together on utility jackets, random mixes of fabrics or the intriguing asymmetric cutting and awkward draping of sleeves on some of the dresses, heralds a return in London of the anarchic 1980s trend that we are starting to see around other catwalks.

Quilting, shirring and ruching (different gathering techniques) on jackets and dresses at J.W.Anderson is another trend that is gathering pace elsewhere in London. While for accessories there are new versions of the Pierce bag and lots of laced boots and shoes, some with pop art prints. J.W.Anderson is nothing if not a thought-provoking designer.