Keyboard Warrior

JW Anderson loves incorporating everyday objects into his clothes. This season, the keys that you type on are not spared

We use it almost everyday (at least for those of us who still work on a PC or a notebook), but the keyboard is not quite on our minds when we think of clothes. Yet, that has not stopped JW Anderson from using keys from a QWERTY keyboard to adorn his clothes. Of the 26 alphabet keys, he chose—unsurprisingly—only J,W, and A for two slim-fitting dresses. Another, an almost backless top, is festooned with too many keys to count. They look like a mosaic arrangement; the keys here seem to have been plucked from a de-commissioned keyboard, scuff marks intact. The keys themselves in fashion are, of course, nothing new. Accessories featuring single square keys or a string of them as a charm have been available for a while. And like these, Mr Anderson’s selected keys are from older keyboards (even the wired ones), not the slim peripheral preferred by the desktop-bound.

Mr Anderson seems to be expressing his geeky side. The show is staged in a games arcade. This could seem flippant when at this time, London is mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and thousands are queuing to walk pass the coffin that lies in state in Westminster Hall. But about two kilometres north, in the lively Soho neighbourhood, the JW Anderson show went on as planned in the Las Vegas Arcade, right next door to his own store at the corner of Wardour and Brewer Streets. There is, of course, nothing terribly unusual in a fashion presentation staged on operational business premises. Balenciaga showed their cruise collection last May in the New York Stock Exchange. While the NYSE may have been a coup of sort for Balenciaga, Mr Anderson’s venue in a commercial heart of the West End is less awe-inspiring but speaks more than the others of the season that the show must go on, just as computer games do. Game arcades (we also know them as entertainment arcades) go back to the early ’70s. But there is nothing even vaguely retro about the JW Anderson collection. The geeky is accompanied by the goofy.

Despite the colourful digital lights coming from the screens of the game machines that line the wall, the clothes look like they belong elsewhere. One ellipsoidal dress, with a reflective metal surface, could be very much a good companion to the Forster and Partners-designed London City Hall, along the Thames. Could this egg-shaped outfit be a symbol of fertility and what was it doing in a game arcade? And how is it worn? Can you sit in it? Is this a body helmet? The sculptural element did not end there: Two dresses with orb-shaped skirts illustrate that silhouettes need not be restricted to those that strictly follow the body. Or conform to what is discernible as a dress, such as the pair of one-shoulder shifts that look like a plastic bag with a fish in it that you get when buying your swimming pet in a fish shop at the market. Another fish appears too, such as the dolphin, but the mammal is just a print on a bodysuit. What aquatic creatures have to do with the movable parts of keyboards is anyone’s guess. It can’t be said Mr Anderson isn’t having fun.

To be certain, Mr Anderson wants to remember this very LFW that unfolded after the British Monarch died. To mark the occasion (even if it could be construed as cursory or, worse, flippant), he sent the last model, a male(?) with blond, vaguely QEII-ish hair down the runway in something the Sovereign probably never wore—a T-shirt. The oversized black top appears singly, sans pants. On the chest are printed the simple words: “HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN 1926—1922 Thank you” in the same font as the announcement of the royal demise seen on bus-stops throughout London, as shared by the British press. How significant that detail is, we are not sure. But a black, nonedescript T-shirt is probably more appropriate than a shiny metal egg.

Screen shot (top): jwanderson.com. Photos: gorunway.com

Two Of A Kind: Gloves With Pouches

If there are two-way bags, there are two-way gloves too. So who’s leading the way?

At the Fendi resort 2023 presentation in New York earlier this month, one model stole the show, even when a bag that Fendi launched 25 years ago—the Baguette—was meant to be the bigger star. The oblong bag with the recognisable flap (and the logo-ed buckle in the middle, near the bottom) was, to be certain, saluted, and in more than one interpretation. The Baguette, in fact, didn’t merely come in other variations, such as the waist bag, trinkets, and even hand warmers; it was sited on articles many would not consider traditional placement, and one of them was on gloves.

If we remember correctly, it was Prada that first fastened what they call a “pouch” on their gloves—on the dorsal side of the hand—for the autumn/winter 2021 season. These were in the shape of the brand’s inverted triangle logo and were, in fact, functional. A zip at the top secured it’s content. Given their size, they could hold coins. Each nifty pouch sported the enamel Prada logo, and the colour and fabric matched the S$1,770-per-pair gloves. At the time, these were considered by many to be “cute”. Now, Fendi has followed suit, placing their considerably shrunken and floppier Baguette on gloves. But rather than leather, their gloves are in knit and their pouches are in nylon, and in the shape of a rectangle that could fit credit cards.

That Fendi needed to create new product categories is understandable. These days, both of these Italian fashion powerhouses are veritable department stores, and they would require a wide assortment of merchandise to fill their massive spaces. And accessories sell, even better than garments. But in widening their offerings, could there be a sacrifice of originality? Could the ability to emulate mean the temptation to submit? Has our world really become one of mono-culture? Or, has the fashion industry become like the tech industry—an open-source community? Ponder over.

Photos: Fendi and Prada respectively