The late Joe Brainard has been described as an “unclassifiable” artist, though he is associated with the New York School of creative types that turned out poetry, art and performances in the 1950s and 1960s.
Hard also to pigeonhole the men’s wear Jonathan Anderson creates for Loewe, consistently daring — and occasionally confounding. This season he dispatched a “show in a book,” a cloth-covered compilation of comics, collages and graphics by Brainard that are surreal, homespun and at times silly. There’s even some groan-inducing knock-knock jokes.
“He thought and acted outside of rule books, and there was a lightness and immediacy in his work that I find acutely apt for this very moment,” Anderson writes in the foreword.
Luxury men’s wear is increasingly becoming a canvas for artworks: Cue Brainard’s popcorn doodles fronting black jeans, his pansies scattered over giant cardigans and high-top sneakers, and his underwear drawing — which he called a self-portrait — slapped on a tote bag and a T-shirt. (Weirdly, it’s the second sighting of tighty-whities this season. Rick Owens had them, too.)
“I wanted something that was quite colorful and upbeat,” Anderson explained over Zoom from Loewe’s Paris office. “I think this is a really good time to experiment.”
It’s been sad for the designer to drive through Camden and not see any punks stomping down the street, which explains the abundance of leather bondage trousers. The collection can be read as a collage of subcultures: big trousers from ravers, shaggy shearlings from hippies and duffle coats from Mods, all done with Loewe’s arty, crafty touches.
While Anderson tends to wear low-key navy crewnecks and jeans, he grabbed a striped grunge sweater and ballooning pants from the fall collection to sit on a stoop and walk viewers through the collection, which includes even bigger trousers with giant side panels that can be hoisted like flags, making them “almost a performative piece.”
“I think you have to have confidence to wear fashion,” he demurred, when asked about his normcore uniform. But he confessed that he’s been buying more expressive and tailored things lately because “I’m looking forward to the moment when I’m not in the house.”
What’s more, Anderson is placing his bets that once the pandemic finally ebbs, men will bound down the stairs from their buildings, as they did in his seasonal video, in colorful sweaters and handsome coats — loungewear be damned.
“No one would choose to live on the sofa for the rest of the year,” he said.