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Whilst J.W. Anderson’s recent womenswear collection was bound in the proverbial straight jacket, his S/S 13 menswear looks were seemingly liberated by a beyond blousy femininity.

Never has girly felt so sinister.

Grateful Dead used to play “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic”, when warming up before gigs – or whilst re-tuning in between songs. This piece of music trivia, explains the show’s narrative, on several levels. Not only did the Grateful Dead teddy bear motiif appear – dancing on sweaters – the entire show felt like a highly stylized jaunt into the woods, where all manner of things became suspiciously subversive.

Folkloric black headscarves, worn with Munster gelled fringes, knocked on the door of a confusing Grimm fairytale – the kind when you find out the woodland witch, putting you in the oven, is your mother. Or, in the case of this collection’s cross-dressing subversity – your dad.

Meanwhile, the influence of Nineties Prada womenswear arrived via Seventies inflected matching turtleneck & bootleg combos, in shades of camel, lilac or grey. Teamed with headscarves and briefcases, the show had the feeling of a 1990’s Roald Dahl film adaption…you know, the one where the little boy stumbles into a witches convention…and they all look like men in women’s clothing. Back on the runway, open toed sandals helped eradicate the fear that this show’s casting could be made up of such witches  – thankfully, no square feet were spotted.

Prada wasn’t the only fashion influence here.  Jonathan Anderson is something of a Marc Jacobs – in his parading of fan club style appropriations.  Here, a cleverly selected gamut of iconic womenswear tropes underpinned both the collection’s questions and answers: will anyone else, other than Marc Jacobs, ever be able to wear those Comme des Garcons lace menswear dresses? Will there ever be anything as iconic in menswear – as the Chanel quilted bag, or Yves Saint Laurent’s le smoking?

From the padded cell of his womenswear, to the here and now of bourgeoisie disturbia, Jonathan Anderson doesn’t let a narrative get in the way of offering up some commercial winners. The ribbed knitted bootleg trousers may be for the acute few, but there were plenty of collectable and highly wearable pieces too. Besides the killer teddy knitwear and candy coloured coats, one standout shirt saw expressionist paint dabs jump from the flatness of fabric, via an anaglyphic 3D print. Whilst a pinstriped blouson trouser suit was a near viable stab at an effeminate workwear option.

After the show, one of the models jokingly offered us his wig. As he held it in his hand, it looked like a black rat, wearing hair gel.

Roald Dahl’s Witches wore wigs too…

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Words: Lucy Norris /  Image: Pret-A-Rever.com