Plasticine! That’s what the blue hoodie and white shorts were molded from by Jonathan Anderson at the beginning of his eponymous London show. We’re used to conceptual illusions from him, but for anyone British, the revelation of the material raised fond smiles and innocent childhood memories of our first stabs at creating things. Plasticine is the play clay invented by William Harbutt in 1897, the U.K. equivalent of America’s Play-Doh. Anderson discovered that Plasticine is still being manufactured in Northern Ireland, the place of his birth.
Somehow, that was an emblematic starter for a collection that had Anderson’s collection circling back to the youth-based energy of his brand. “It was kind of re-going back to find a new path,” he said. In the summer he “saw all these girls and boys hanging out wearing biker jackets and cargos.” Street observation—seeing the generic clothes young people really wear, but with a different attitude in each generation—put him in the mood to think about “what happens when you focus on reduction. It wasn’t about a lot of tricks. Kind of a cleanser.”
Nevertheless, Anderson’s cool hand with exaggerating proportions, his exactitude with placing pops of color, and his genius for shoe design were all over the show. Take the cargo pants: “When you pump them up, they all of a sudden have this kind of swagger,” he noted.
Then: adding glamour to the MA-1 archetype by inflating it as a cocoon and having feathers explode from the seams. And putting something that might have been a Hula-Hoop up the skirt of a knitted dress. Playfulness balanced with practicality might be a way to sum it up. Or as Anderson put it, “Finding the strangeness in the mundane.”
The collection was also grounded—not to pun—with a great show of footwear: clogs, geometrically woven flat sandals, and moccasins set on kitten heels. As it happens, those last catnip fashion items also go back to Anderson’s childhood as a sharp-eyed kid, drinking in everything he saw in Northern Ireland. “They remind me of my granny’s slippers,” he said, laughing. “Actually both my grannies had them. They were a thing. Kind of cozy!”
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This article was originally published on Vogue.com.