Watching Loewe’s spring show felt akin to strolling through a contemporary art fair — your eyes and brain tickled with new forms, concepts and compositions.
After 18 months of dispatching elaborate collections-in-a-box for his JW Anderson brand and Loewe, Jonathan Anderson was in a mood for runway experimentation, installing angular wire contraptions under knit tube dresses; fronting tie-dye numbers with metal plates reminiscent of Salvador Dalí’s melting clocks, and finishing off metallic pumps with heels shaped like birthday candles, a short-stemmed rose, or a broken egg, the yolk spilled and gleaming.
By his own admission, the collection was neurotic and psychedelic, with a touch of surrealism. The show notes add “completely hysterical.”
It was also sensational, cementing Anderson’s reputation as one of fashion’s true innovators, and a daring showman.
Models ascended stairs from a hole in the floor of a vast, pine-wood set, some with colorful caps of hair that obscured their eyes.
The show unfurled in chapters that repeated variations of strong design ideas: trenchcoats with a turtle shell of hammered brass worked into the back; Tinkerbell outfits with wing-like shoulder protrusions; neo-Grecian gowns, and bubbling bombers paired with elephant pants. It climaxed with transparent molded breast plates incorporated into clinging mini dresses.
This was one of the sexiest, most abstract Loewe collections yet, stretching the Spanish house’s association with craftsmanship and the art world into new dimensions. Interspersed with all the walking sculptures — some jutting wires could take an eye out — were fetching slipdresses with ruffled slits, or a ruffled porthole for one leg that didn’t look as awkward as it sounds; cool lopsided jeans jackets, one side cape-like, and many ravishing draped gowns.
Eye-catching accessories included translucent sneakers that looked as if they were made of beeswax; slouchy boots in bright, teddy-bear fabrics, and all those “ironic” heels employing “ready-made” objects.
In a post-show scrum, Anderson said a painting by Pontormo was the springboard for the collection, though he blurred the historical references like Gerhard Richter does with a squeegee.
“For me, it’s a very fashion show,” he said, accentuating the word fashion. “I’ve been at Loewe for nearly eight years now and I felt like now is a moment to try to chart new territory of where we can go, how craft can be reinterpreted.”
The fashion pack seems in thrall with the return of live shows, while Anderson was a bit more philosophical.
“I feel like the idea of doing a show now is some sort of odd form of a surrealist act somehow,” he said, “because everything is kind of normal, but it’s not really, so I felt like I didn’t want something which was completely grounded in a reality.”
As fashion escapism, the whole experience was a treat.