Doomscrolling Through Fashion Week | GQ

It might sound provocative, but it’s just a simple fact: Instagram has changed the way fashion has been created, presented and consumed over the past decade, and now TikTok is doing the same. For some designers, the app has become an inspirational muse, but for an ultra curious designer like Jonathan Anderson, it has become more of a portal into young people’s thinking. She showed him the impact her early collections had on Gen Z queer fashion fanatics, most notably her ruffled fall 2013 dresses, which are often talked about on the platform. He also became an unexpected icon of the TikTok knitting community after a cardigan of his worn by Harry Styles went viral. If Instagram has reconfigured our eye for fashion, in many ways it has made things flatter, more colorful and more minimalist, TikTok seems to reshape the way we think about it and consume it. There are now a multitude of commentators analyzing the fashion news and shows on the platform, and it will be interesting to see how that burgeoning subculture expands.

More immediately, however: the multitude of interpretations, ideas and re-evaluations that now the life of online makeup has shaped Anderson’s latest show for JW Anderson, shown by a video in the Milanese schedule after the Omicron wave led him to cancel a return to the catwalk. It could be said that this was a collection on Anderson’s doomscrolling: through the fashion historians of TikTok (there were a number of nods to that fall 2013 collection); through football documentaries that made him think of masculinity and led to a tiny sequined uniform; through YouTube beauty tutorials, which inspired an eye print; through children who wear glittery latex and dance; through ASMR videos that fetishize crack, click and buzz (there’s a vest made of snappy bands). When I asked him why he decided to make a plastic pigeon bird purse (he had one 3D printed for the show, but now he has to figure out how to produce on a larger scale because so many people want to order it) he laughed and said to have seen those videos of Gen Z conspiracy theorists who believe that birds are not real. But pigeons, he noted, are also a symbol of metropolitan life, citizens of almost every city in the world: “Really, the most successful bird!” he chuckled. That, in a way, comes down to what’s most interesting about Jonathan Anderson’s clothing right now: it’s about a generation that many people misunderstand without looking stylish, as almost every dress that speaks to this cohort does.

Courtesy of JW Anderson.
Courtesy of JW Anderson.

“I just wanted something a little silly,” Anderson said. The collection was pretty crazy, I told him, even for him. Anderson says he likes to think of “juxtaposed objects” and is not looking for “a totemic look” (although he certainly can do the latter). And it’s true that if you break the pieces, there are many simpler and more compelling things: a big bomber jacket, some really cool Mary Jane creepers, a shearling coat with a wavy hem, sexy polo.

Courtesy of JW Anderson.
Courtesy of JW Anderson.

Anderson doesn’t really think about creating perfect collections, though. He is, after all, a well-adjusted millennial man. What he said instead is that the pandemic has completely committed him to experimentation. “We have to break our notions of ourselves,” he said. “I think we underestimate the power of creativity at times like this. In other parts of the story, creativity has actually been used as a device to stimulate thought. “It’s an ideal rather than an execution. Or maybe: You don’t work to respond to the moment, as a creative person. You make compelling things and the way he explains our world comes later. This is what TikTok showed me, anyway: why be a fortune teller when you can be a surrealist?

Samuel Ross, the British designer behind A-COLD-WALL, also explodes with creative ingenuity. Ross’s brand has always been GORP-y, known for the luxurious treatment of performance clothing, and has many fans, including hip hop artists who love his out-of-the-ordinary jackets. But something fell into place this season and her clothes were new exciting. She made her puffy waistcoats with threads sewn into the hems, so they could be twisted and molded into something coldly tortured, and a pair of large, tight pants on the inside seam to create an arched leg. He made a number of pieces starting with clay. Many of the models were painted in bronze and gold, an editorial choice that could have easily been pretentious, but instead looked boldly tall. This season, Ross says, has been more of an “artistic process”, driven by “understanding and using the differences between when to be an artist and when to be a designer when passing on a collection.” He seemed excited by the thought he had made and said he felt “spiritually very good” about the collection. He called it “a love letter to expression and creativity”.

Courtesy of A-COLD-WALL.
Courtesy of A-COLD-WALL.

It wasn’t just that the clothes, along with the film shot in the Tate Museum’s Turbine Hall, were “a way to carry on the brutalism” to which he is so attached. The whole felt cohesive, powerful, stormy and powerful, and could push Ross out of the crowded realm of luxury performance and streetwear and into the universe of brands like Rick Owens or Undercover. His mind raced; he talked about how going to see the Magna Carta a few months ago influenced him. “There are all of these as nerdy references, you know, to sacrilege, history and optimism, the golden age of the Enlightenment that I’m actually starting to move further into A Cold Wall.” After listing these important and important topics, he drew an unexpected conclusion: “You can say that I’m actually sharing more of my personal world, to some extent.” What I suppose he meant was that he was sharing his personal journey of obsessions and rabbit holes.

Courtesy of A-COLD-WALL.
Courtesy of A-COLD-WALL.

Ross is a longtime friend of the late Virgil Abloh and we talked about how he designed this collection in the wake of Abloh’s death. Abloh was always full of ideas, seemed to make nine million things happen at once, and his Vuitton collections have adopted this concept of an intellectual journey as a personal biography. He and Abloh had several conversations about the themes and feelings that inspired this collection prior to his passing, most notably during a visit Abloh made to Ross’s studio last October. But now Ross has felt a “philosophical shift”. After Abloh’s death, Ross said: “I went to the country with my family, dressed all in black, in mourning, clearly, and then I came back down, wearing the primary colors and the paint-stained clothing and [feeling] this massive outpouring and gush of expression comes to the fore ”. There is, he said, “a new soaked and euphoric spirit to really amplify sonically.”

Ross’s name is throughout Europe and even the United States as an alleged successor to Abloh from Louis Vuitton. All I can say is that this collection has thrown down the gauntlet to say it is more than up to the task. Regardless of whether this happens or not, it has risen to a new level of expression.

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