The court circle of the Tudor era supplied an elongated shape, padded bodices and fluted hemlines
History seems to swirl around London designers like the fog that once nestled on their city.
But Jonathan Anderson looked a long way further back than smokey Victorian England.
His inspiration was Tudor King, Henry VIII, who gave the spring/summer 2017 collection a particular shape: narrow, elongated to below the hips, then flowing into a skirt that might swoop short or twist for part of the fluted hemline. The shoes were balanced on hefty heels that were sliced as if coming apart.
"It's from the Henry VIII period, but it's part of a whole idea about relics, the idea that a woman would take something from the aggressive masculinity of a period of bygone days and be, not a warrior, but wear a shape that is very empowering," said Jonathan Anderson.
His Irish gift of the gab then continued to recount a story of appropriating an urban culture which in itself re-interpreted "the Tudor hefty drill and velvet, replacing it with fine, organic linen."
What a fashion miracle that this convoluted explanation referred to a powerful and intriguing collection, probably the most wearable that the designer has done. There were interesting mixes of materials, but an overall sense of purpose — even if Jw continued to make his presentation as awkward as possible, having the models walk in and out of narrow green cabinets.
The mix of fabrics was striking — and not particularly as separate ideas. Henry VIII's full sleeves were in frills of white cotton which infiltrated a padded tunic that mimicked a royal doublet. Another white linen dress looked like King Henry's latest mistress had been caught stark naked and did a quick cover up with bits of table linen.
But there really was a mad design logic to all these pieces, which were original in colour — especially the sunrise/sunset shades of pink dissolving into sky blue or as a draped dress in the warm gold of dying day light.
Having learned about accessories from his other day job as designer at Spanish, LVMH-owned Loewe brand, Jw added big, squishy suede and leather bags, almost big enough to hold a royal crown.
The strength of the show was in its designer's certainty, as he placed a monkey's face on one of the flaring sweater tops and, on just one side of a top, another bold, if incomprehensible, pattern of what looked like human bones.
Mis-matched earrings, misshapen shoes, it was all part of a vibrant energy that marks the best London designers and makes them uniquely original.