JW Anderson x A.P.C. take an unconventional approach to the Americana aesthetic for its Interaction #20 collaborative collection, by turning to the German teacher and conceptual artist Joseph Beuys’ polarsing performance I Like America and America Likes Me.
By May of 1974, Beuys was already known for his provoking works, but I Like America and America Likes Me was one that would go down in history. The conceptual artist hopped on a plane from Dusseldorf to New York, wrapped in a felt blanket in order “to not see America… and to be isolated from the outside world.” He would then be transported by ambulance to the René Block Gallery where he would stay for three days with a coyote, all the time still wrapped in the blanket.
What seems like a dangerous artistic stunt was actually dust in the wind compared to the horrors that America was involved in, notably the Vietnam war. Beuys set up this performance to expose the country’s wrongdoings and prove that the coyote, a Native American symbol, wasn’t an enemy. This performance has since been referenced in pop culture for its shock-inducing, long-lasting impact, notably by The 1975 in a song by the same name, and now by JW Anderson and A.P.C..
The collection’s interpretation of the artwork isn’t so literal, though clear nods to the gallery’s address and the ambulance can be spotted as graphic details on the interior of various pieces and in bold colouring on T-shirts. Elsewhere, rough wool makes up a duffle coat reminiscent of the felt Beuys was wrapped in for several days.
Most of the collection follows two quintessential silhouettes, just as Beuys and the coyote represented two different sides of conflict. The first is a fitted one, as seen on a denim jacket and biker jacket that taps into a rocker aesthetic, while the second introduces more flowy garments, such as multicolour knits reminiscent of hippie culture dresses.
Jonathan Anderson spoke on this collaboration, saying: “We have this fascination for reinventing things that don’t need to be reinvented, but glorified instead, which I think is more exciting.” He goes on to say “What A.P.C. is amazing at is it doesn’t feel over-egged. It has just the right amount of now.”
Founder and Creative Director of A.P.C. Jean Touitou emphasised the easy-going way of working with Anderson, describing it as a “productive ping-pong game,” riffing off each other’s creative energies and ideas. “Thanks to Jonathan, we were able to go a little farther than usual in terms of originality and explorations. Let’s take Joseph Beuys’s ambulance and follow him on his chimeric journey,” he adds.
The full JW Anderson x A.P.C. Interaction #20 collection will drop on October 12 online and in A.P.C. stores.
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