He’s back, the wonder boy that is JW Anderson. The 35-year-old Magherafelt-born designer is back on the rails with his eponymous label at Brown Thomas where, as synchronicity would have it, his career started out almost two decades ago. His is a fashion conversation that began thanks to rugby. His father, the legendary Willie Anderson, a former Ireland and Ulster lock was training at Leinster Rugby. His son JW, who once had his eye on being an actor, got a job in visual merchandising in the Grafton Street store. It was only a matter of time before his talent was spotted and he was whisked away to Europe.
e started his own brand in 2008 and has developed a very unique voice and aesthetic, offering a modern interpretation of masculinity and femininity, taking silhouettes or features from the two and combining them to create something new. I interviewed JW – or Jonathan as he is called by his family and friends – at Brown Thomas in 2013 and in recent years, he has been stocked in the store albeit with Loewe, the luxury Spanish heritage brand of which he is the creative director.
This season JW Anderson’s own label offering at Brown Thomas is quirky but highly wearable. The first drop, which has just arrived in store includes a statement checked jacket and trousers – but with a twist. The jacket, in virgin wool with a gingham check, flares out with a striking peplum. JW likes to put a signature playful spin on his tailored trousers and these ones are in the same patterned check as the jacket and tied at the ankle with bows. Other new pieces in his collection include a cosy turtleneck sweater in a cashmere and merino wool blend, with extra-long sleeves and embellished with pearls.
Other new brands in store for AW20 include Khaite, the US label from Catherine Holstein that reimagines classic American sportswear in the Designer Rooms. Meanwhile, in Contemporary on Level 2, there’s JW, T by Alexander Wang (check out the very different denim miniskirt made from a jacket) and Bernadette, a very feminine Antwerp label from mother-daughter duo Bernadette and Charlotte de Geyter.
In a little bit of next generation news, JW Anderson has offered an internship to the winner of the Brown Thomas/NCAD bursary for the annual CREATE showcase which opens on September 22. Judged by Shelly Corkery, fashion director of the Brown Thomas Group, former winners in CREATE have included Daniel Roden, Laoise Carey, Ala Sinkevich, Aideen Gaynor and Heather Gilroy.
The concept of wearable art interests me no end. In recent years I’ve been a big fan of Jill & Gill, the award-winning Irish illustrators and printmakers and I am delighted to see that illustrator Jill Deering and printmaker Gillian Henderson have been given the proverbial leg up on the retail scene with the offer of a pop-up shop on Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green.
From next Wednesday (September 2) they will be located in the former Coast store where they will be selling their art work and cool fashion apparel. This has come about through the Champion Green initiative which was created by Kilkenny Design, and is supported by Visa, to help thousands of small businesses across the country that form the backbone of the Irish economy. Aviva Life and Pensions Ireland has provided them with a complimentary short-term licence on the property so that the business can explore the high street retail potential and extend its consumer reach. So what will you find in their new store? Well it wouldn’t be Jill & Gill without their bestselling Boss Lady clothing range which is a celebration of aspirational women through illustration and print.
There’s the Frida Kahlo limited edition brushed cotton crew neck sweater in lavender (€100) which has a loose/unisex fit. Made from 85pc organic ring-spun cotton and 15pc recycled polyester, it comes in five sizes, S-XL and later in the season, watch out for a lovely lavender grey colour. The legendary 96-year-old New York style icon Iris Apfel reigns supreme and her face features on a sweater in pink or cobalt blue, with a mint green one coming in weeks. The store will stock their Boundless Radicals prints for €200 including Iris, Mary Robinson and Sinead Burke. In a new development, Jill & Gill are introducing a range of embroidered garments for those who might want something arty but who do not want to wear an illustration.
In my trawl of the boutiques around the country I came across a new label that held my attention and I went back to have another little nosey after seeing this coat image. It’s by LaLa Berlin, a new label spotted by Aoife McBride and Dorrane Hickey and introduced to Macbees in Killarney, Co Kerry.
This gorgeous brand is really slick but embellished with elements from the designer’s Persian heritage. There are lots of wrap-belted camel coats out there but this one has attitude, not least because of its punched eyelet and chic chain detailing. The coat has just landed in store and costs €599. Macbee’s new Danish brand, Baum und Pferdgarten. from designers Helle Hestehave and Rikke Baumgarten, is also worth taking a peek at.