London's menswear shows are getting into a groove now, this being the second season that they've had their very own dedicated schedule spanning three days. I've dipped my toe in the water today, starting out with JW Anderson's show this morning. Every J-Dubz- as Jonathan's label is affectionately known- offering comes as an exploration of some intellectual concept which often seems to me like it may be more at home in the studies of the lecturers who took me through my English degree than on a catwalk. That's not to say that it doesn't eventually work to study through clothes rather words, a practise which Jonathan has pretty much mastered (although it must be said that he also gets it bang-on with pieces you want to wear every day- see his Topshop collab). However, it does mean that the collection is challenging. For most of us that means an exciting new thing to get our heads around, something fresh for the eye to adjust to, far removed from our accepted concepts of what is or is not "stylish" or "acceptable". When Vogue's Fashion Editor Fran Burns tweeted some pictures from the show, she received a few spiky replies including "Sorry but even wide-eyed fashion followers will find this ugly". Her retort? " Keep your knickers on people! Fashion is an expressive art form". With that in mind, I've boiled down the show to the five key points to really get to grips with.
#1. KINKY ACCESSORIES
Kinky may well be the wrong word to use here because it's not as if looks were littered with whips and harnesses but there was something subtly fetishistic about the flounce-edged black leather riding boots and bright white latex gloves which seemed like a mad concoction of washing up, magician and Michael Jackson references. The boots were not the only point of leg interest as many looks featured such short lengths that acres of thigh were still on show. That combination of thigh and tough black leather gave the boys a very vampy vibe.
#2. SHOW NOTES WITH MEANING
I'm a little obsessed with show notes and the myriad of ways designers choose to introduce their collections. Here are what we got to read (all in caps) as we sat down this morning:
"THE J.W.ANDERSON AUTUMN/WINTER 2013 COLLECTION IS AN EXAMINATION OF BOURGEOIS KINKYNESS AND BOUDOIR PERVERSITY. IT EXPLORES THE SELFISH ACT OF RESHUFFLING THE NOTION OF ANATOMY AND CREATING SUSPENDED ARCHITECTURES. THE WARDROBE BECOMES A PROJECTION OF THE MIND ONTO A WHITE CANVAS"
#3. BOYS IN SKIRTS AND BOOB TUBES
Unisex fashion is very often more about girls dressing in boyish clothes than boys dressing in girly clothes- masculine tailoring is an oft used expression in women's fashion writing but when do you ever find GQ singing the praises of feminine florals, for example, for men to give a try? J.W Anderson is very much interested in blurring gender in fashion but he dares do it the other way, enter boys in skirts, dresses and boob tubes. And some of those guys look disconcertingly great.
#4. THE HAIR
Talk about Slick Rick. The models had severe forehead to neck nape partings. I may be reading too much into it but from the front these could almost pass as ladies low ponytails, there we are, challenged once more.
#5. THE PIECES YOU CAN REALLY WEAR
It's not all about conceptual pushing the boundaries. J.W Anderson AW13 has perfect coats, jumpers, trousers... for boys and girls.