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J.W. Anderson, Simone Rocha and Emilia Wickstead Amp the Volume for Spring 2016, With Mixed Results

When designers exaggerate proportions, the results can be costumey or, in the case of J.W. Anderson, totally unique.
A look from J.W. Anderson's spring 2016 collection. Photo: Imaxtree

A look from J.W. Anderson's spring 2016 collection. Photo: Imaxtree

Designer Jonathan Anderson is overseeing collections for two labels these days — his eponymous line, based in London, and the 169-year-old, LVMH-owned house of Loewe, based in Madrid — and yet he is hardly short on ideas. His show was the highlight of day two of fashion week, a spring collection original for its silhouettes — with gigot sleeves of proportions not seen since Alexander McQueen's spring 2007 runway show, harem pants that flared before cinching at the ankle and camisoles adorned with exaggerated ruffles— and texture: which, crinkled and ruched, gave a steel blue bustier dress edge a contemporary zing while sheer overlays added a gauzy softness to a pair of matching sweater and trouser combos. A bold black-on-white and white-on-black squiggle print appeared again and again, calling to mind the graffiti-inspired drawings of Keith Haring. (The soundtrack, interspersed with Fran Lebowitz's comments about art, were a nice foil.) 

Anderson is a master of knitwear, and some of the most covetable pieces of the collection were sweaters with ruffled collars and bell sleeves and crisp track jackets with ribbed-knit panels. Now that Anderson is backed by LVMH, he has been steadily building out his accessories: the models sometimes wore two messenger bags slung over their shoulders and square-toed ankle boots, some lace-up, accompanied most of the looks.

Another highlight of day two was Simone Rocha's show, who relaxed some of the English costume history pageantry this season in favor of some very wearable silhouettes. The show opened with a series of pink and then burgundy dresses, dropped at the shoulder with '80s prom-dress sleeves, their prints softened by chiffon overlays. One of the standouts of the collection was a dress with a white rubberized bodice knotted to look like net and attached to a full pink skirt printed with faint florals. Another, a midi sheath in pale pink with full, dropped three-quarter sleeves, was simple and classic but felt fresh. 

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All of this looked very Rocha and then, in the middle of the collection, she introduced a series of looks that were uncomfortably similar to Prada's enormously popular fall 2015 collection — down to the colors, the thick silky fabrication, the use of crystal embellishments and the shoulder bows. Fortunately it was only an interlude, and the show closed with some handsome net-print and broderie anglaise dresses, a few with semi-sheer side ruffles that lengthened the silhouette.

Emilia Wickstead — who is known for her elegant, tight-waisted, full-skirted dresses that call to mind Grace Kelly — did not have as much success avoiding costume territory. In fact, it was a multi-period tour, beginning with an ankle-length dress whose full sleeves, gathered at the elbow, evoked the Renaissance; full floral bloomers that were unmistakably Tudor; and for the finale, a high-waisted floral dress that, but for its bright floral print, could appear in a Jane Austen period film. Still, it was nice to see Wickstead experiment with new shapes and volume, and the slightly relaxed waists on a few of her dresses looked inviting to wear.