While many European designers went back to basics this season, Jonathan Anderson dared to explore the unknown in menswear — and it was exhilarating to watch.
Here was another stunner of a Loewe men’s show — thought-provoking in its bluntness, unorthodox in its use of stiff materials like copper, pewter and vellum, and frequently chic in an otherworldly way.
In a fall season strong on tailored, woollen coats, Anderson’s were exceptional in their elongated slenderness, and even more intriguing when they were cut a little looser and buttonless, fronted by a deep V opening in which models rested one hand, as if their arm was in a sling.
René Magritte came to mind when a flaring outerwear garment, hammered from copper, came into view. Ditto the loose velvet shirt, worn open at the back like a hospital gown, leaving space for metal wings to escape. This is not a raincoat; this is not an angel.
White and red contact lenses worn by some of the models added eerie, disquieting moments to the show, set amid three large-scale paintings by American artist Julien Nguyen on a gleaming white set.
But overall it was uplifting to see so many experimental silhouettes, some with Renaissance airs, realized with such conviction, and finesse. Minimalist design still has plenty of gas in the tank when Anderson is at the wheel.
Crewneck sweaters bunched here and there at the side seams, creating bulbous new forms, while trenchcoats came padded and puffed up like the robes seen in Old Master paintings. One silvery top that bulged at the hem contained sand to create a new “modular” form.
Anderson carried over the winning après-workout vibe he unveiled at Loewe last season, filmy long johns shown in lieu of technical leggings.
In a postshow scrum, Anderson mused about finding new ways to interpret materials. “Hat makers making coats, book makers making clothing,” which explained his thick, hourglass coats and the crisp, paper-like shirts.
“I think menswear can be such an exciting platform, as a method of being able to trial things. I’m in this moment where I want to push the envelope,” he said. “I feel like shows should be used as a laboratory.”
Indeed, Anderson thinks fashion “has never felt more exciting,” and that it’s heading again into modernity, but a more “peculiar” one than the straight-up ’90s version.
“I hope that we’re going into a period where it is about being uncomfortable in design, that we are trying to find something new,” he continued. “I do feel like less is more — but in a new way.”