J.W. Anderson’s New Fashion Exhibition, A study In The Avant Garde

J.W. Anderson, who creates fashions for men and women under his J.W. Anderson label and for Spanish luxury firm Loewe, is curating an exhibition titled “Disobedient Bodies” at the Hepworth Wakefield gallery next spring. The highly anticipated exhibition will explore how sculptors, designers and potters re-imagined the barriers of the human form in the 20th- and 21st centuries.

Anderson said he plans to juxtapose dresses with sculptures, including many by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. And he intends to add the transformative silhouettes invented by Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. “She really tackles the form at a level that’s unheard of,” said Anderson on Kawakubo. A hot topic, Rei Kawakubo is also the focus of a new exhibition in New York, out next spring.

“Wave” by Barbara Hepworth
HenryMoore_RecliningFigure_1951
“Reclining Figure by Henry Moore (1951)

For “Disobedient Bodies” Anderson’s fashion selections run the gamut from flagrant distortions of the human body, such as Issey Miyake’s lantern dresses, to minimalist interpretations by Helmut Lang, who “reduced it to the line.”

Issey Miyake’s lantern dress

In Anderson’s estimation, artists have been more daring in their portrayals of the body than designers. “There is a barrier because in fashion we’re always bound by this idea that something has to have a reality,” he mused.

Helmut Lang

Anderson plans to include looks from his seminal men’s collection from fall-winter 2013, a progressive menswear selection hinged with ruffled shorts and tunics in felt. The line capitulated conservative critics and cemented his reputation as a gender-bending trailblazer. Yet the designer truthfully shared that the sales of the avant garde line were “Not very well.”

But the modern British fashion designer sees the exhibition as a chance to re-interpret fashion and design. Anderson plans to give visitors a glimpse of what feeds creativity with a “research lab” installation displaying objects, images, books and films from his personal collection.

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The exhibition is slated to open on March 18, 2017 for a three-month run, incorporating sculptures by such artists as Jean Arp, Sarah Lucas, Louise Bourgeois, Dorothea Tanning and Magali Reus, along with vessels by Hans Coper and lamps by Isamu Noguchi.