10.00 am on a Sunday morning is not the best slot for a catwalk show, but J.W.Anderson tried to do his best to make it pleasant for his audience at London Fashion Week Men's, an audience that was probably still largely sleeping.
Anderson played with some cozy tropes that never went out of fashion - namely multi-coloured crocheted squares of the kind your granny used to make in the '70s and then turn into antimacassars, blankets, scarves, bags and dresses.
History entered his latest womenswear collection via Henry VIII's doublets, but in this case the designer looked at the Middle Ages and in particular at knights. This inspiration was evoked by his oversized tabard and tunic-shaped tops (the oversized knits actually called to mind a bit too much Raf Simons'...), and by crocheted heraldic symbols and elements portraying stained glass windows sewn to sweaters and trousers.
The typical Anderson fan doesn't seem to have a real job that implies functional clothes you can walk and move freely in, but has the freedom to dress in oversized stuff with sleeves happily trailing on the floor behind them (Anderson fans aren't definitely your average overexploited warehouse workers clad in functional clothes that allow them to move around at the speed of light...).
Art came via David Hockney's iPad landscapes and Patrick Caulfield's bright colours: these inspirations provided the palette and landscape prints and stained-glass window motifs (slightly distorted thanks to a perversely digital touch).
Crochet squares prevailed and became a recurring motif: they were used as sleeves, for long scarves and collar elements, for pockets and for ridiculous tongue-like over-shoe coverings (catwalk only, please, don't try them in the street to avoid multiple accidents).
Apparently Anderson and his stylist had a vision while staring at the crochet squares and smartly thought they looked terribly modern like iPhone apps. But the real problem with crochet squares is that they have never been a problem because they have always been around, so you don't need to attach to them a new meaning to justify your choice and make them sound more desirable.
In many ways crochet squares were never out of fashion and those of us who do have one design made with this technique by a keen knitter granny or aunt, are still wearing it every now and then without really caring about what this trend agency or that fashion magazine says.
The most annoying thing about this collection was that maybe most reviewers still highlighted Anderson as a pioneering genius, seeing the crochet squares as a fun novelty thing hinting at cocooning balls of wool and wrapping up in warm blankets against the real cold or against the metaphorically cold times we're living in.
Surely this is nothing new, though: we stared at the same squares in the A/W 2011 season when Christopher Kane and House of Holland re-did them for womenswear, the former in somber shades, the latter in bright and bold colours, while Miuccia Prada tried her hand at this style in Miu Miu's Resort 2015 collection that featured flares topped with what Vogue called "questionable hand-crocheted vests".
The most recent designer who turned to crocheted squares was Jeremy Scott who revomited the idea for Moschino's Resort 2017 collection.
Ah, but come next season Anderson's designs will provide us with new versions of the crafty crochet squares, reviewers will tell us, as they are infinitely more ironic and subtle, surreal, stylish and sublime than any other crochet square that has ever appeared on a runway. Still they reek of something already seen that can be reinvented at home having the skills, time and will that our pioneering grannies had.