by Alex R. Travers
On the days leading up to the London men’s collections, MAN alum and street-wear designer, Astrid Andersen, posted an Instagram shot of her mood board. The photo included a DVD cover of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, the director’s gospel to avant-gardist Alejandro Jodorowsky, featuring Ryan Gosling as a drug-dealing, modern-day Hamlet with an Oedipus complex. It seemed the combination of the film’s high-octane action with Andersen’s love of athleticism would provide a wellspring of rough-and-tough inspiration. But the designer was more attuned to the film’s softer sides, the dissonance and all. “It’s delicate and sensitive in pace, sound, and color,” said Andersen of the film, “and brutal in scenery.”
So was her narrative today. The models’ soft, long hair, for instance, was a contrast to the famously oversized sweats. The acid blues and oranges (another nod to cinematographer Larry Smith?) gave a synthetic sheen to the natural silks and furs. And, as always, there were a few feminine statements mixed in with all that raw masculinity: a gauzy layer with passementerie trim over one of her printed tees, for example, or those stretchy one-shoulder numbers under the quilted coats.
But that duality is an Andersen signature, even though it’s the brutish cord that resonates best. After all, those are the pieces the buyers crave. They’ll no doubt like the bold logos, the padded blouson with contrasting, structured fabrics, and the parka lined with mink. That’s when her feminine…er…scratch that, ultra-luxe materials work well: when they’re subtle.