Loewe: Breastplates and erotic surrealism
Possibly no designer today has quite so many ideas as Jonathan Anderson, who presented a striking, surreal and yet subtle collection for the house of Loewe on a chilly Friday morning in Paris.
One knows that a brand’s business is good when they invite you to show in the Garde Republicaine, the cavalry barracks near Bastille – where the likes of Hermes and Christian Dior have staged shows.
A dozen beautiful chestnut horses were going through morning exercises, as guests arrived at the location. Which marked the first time that Loewe had deserted Anderson’s preferred location, inside UNESCO, since he took over creatively eight years ago.
One climbed the stairs into a beautiful expanse of lime-washed pine built above the show’s backstage, so one could practically touch the ceiling of the riding arena.
The collection was frequently a battle between deconstruction and draping, as Anderson opened with tetrahedron dresses with jarring angles and spikes, as much works of sculpture as articles of fashion. When he ventured into denim, he disassembled jean jackets in asymmetrical capes and dresses, finished with blooming trims of faille.
Poetic but punchy, the show’s most memorable images were Anderson’s breastplate dresses, abstract shapes in metal or resin - looking somewhat like a fun house mirror - made with a local Parisian artisan, and clipped over knit dresses and cocktails.
“After this whole pandemic, it was time to chart new territory, and how can craft can be reinterpreted. Beaten metal becoming reflective, making an image of ourselves. The sense of a woman in control looking to the future but at one with the past,” explained the ever voluble Northern Irish designer.
In part, Loewe, albeit a Spanish brand, was entering the stream of French fashion history, where designers have played with metal as futurism, kitsch or sci-fi.
However, Jonathan’s starting point was a painting in Florence by Pontormo, the Italian mannerist famed for his floating figures, though given a psychedelic reinterpretation – washed out and smeared.
“I liked the idea of blurring out history like Richter,” explained Anderson to over a score of critics post-show holding out iPhones.
Though his most surrealism moments were actually Loewe’s new footwear, specifically the heels – bars of violet soap; inverted red roses or rose waxy candles.
After a half dozen “shows in boxes” for Loewe and his own brand J W Anderson in the past 18 months, the designer clearly needed a reset.
“I began by asking what was the purpose of the show? So, I wanted something erotic, psychedelic and surrealist… Right now, the idea of doing a show is an odd surrealist act, an erotic act. Everything is kinda normal but it is not really,” he shrugged.
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