Loewe: Maximalist mode in a mighty portfolio
Jonathan Anderson’s latest show, this week for the Spanish label Loewe, came in an enormous cardboard box. It surely had couriers grumbling throughout Western Europe, as much as it delighted editors and fans in equal parts.
Inside, one discovered a 68 x 94 cm artist’s portfolio, inside of which there were almost 20 sheathes of wallpaper, four times as large. Each featured photos of pals of Anderson in what he called a Show-on-a-wall.
An image of model Holly saw her in a sky blue schoolmarm dress, though finished with enormous leg-of-mutton sleeves. Another gal called Kristina in a vampy, micro-sequined, column that was cut away to the hip, like "thousands of sequined disco lights," said Anderson in an accompanying video released Friday afternoon during Paris Fashion Week.
Or there was Vittoria in a beige coat of enormous folds, worthy of a victorious samurai. She clutched the latest version of the soft and reduced Flamenco bag tied with an origami knot.
Many of the cast were fashion insiders – such as Laurence Kleinknecht for so long the faithful communications director of Hedi Slimane. Nobody looked quite as cool as Laurence in a Pacific blue gown with massive cape sleeves, that echoed Kansai Yamamoto as his best.
"Recontextualizing fashion. While travel is restricted we still want the viewer to participate. Forcing them to be creative and interact," explained Anderson.
Where in previous seasons, for his own brand and Loewe, the designer had sent out books crammed with ideas, images, fabrics and prose. This season he wanted: "Maxi – everything exactly life size."
And genuine interaction. Along with the sheath of wallpaper we had an actual roll designed by Anthea Hamilton; plus, a brush, glue and a portable pail. For tricky angles in upper floor flats, a large pair of scissors for trimming. Also inside was the score of "Spem in Alium" by Thomas Tallis, an ancient piece of music for forty voices.
The biggest news was the voluminous clothing, or what Jonathan called "structured fluidity," stemming from his research into 18th-century shapes; glorifying hand-woven techniques and pushing forward with advanced embroidery.
"Buckled volume… that encompasses," added the designer, clearly searching for escapist clothing in this pandemic. Boldly working on advanced techniques like taking boning form the interior of dresses and using them on the outer edges of gowns to extend them away from the torso.
The final of the 120 x 178 cm sheaths was devoted to accessories, which have been an immense success story at Loewe, and burnished Anderson’s reputation within LVMH, which owns the Madrid-based brand.
"Rediscovering our classics," said the Northern Irish designer, who showed his best selling invention, the crumpled-up Puzzle bag embellished with loads of sequins. Along with sturdier versions of his Shell bag, referencing the 19th-century ceramicist American George Ohr, better know as the Mad Potter of Biloxi. Google his image and you will understand.
"Not bombastic but a sincere and embracing moment," concluded Anderson, after his most successful show in a box, or wall, to date.
Arguably no designer in the Age of Instagram properly understands the desire of so many for clothes that make the wearer look as if they have just participated in a photo shoot. So, this highly photogenic collection should prove to be an immense success.
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