Is any designer out there doing more with less better than Jonathan Anderson? Doubtfully, because his fall Loewe show was another stunner, despite his zeal for reducing fashion down to the simplest, bluntest elements.
But what elements. Photos of antique garments blurred on pristine white duchess silk dresses, as if by Gerhard Richter’s squeegee; lengths of panne velvet draped over a brass peg at the center of the ribcage, or simply hugged around the body; plain white feathers arranged into the dreamiest sweatshirt imaginable, and leather stiffened into neat little Lego-like shirts, or flowing like hot chocolate on roomy coats, slouchy bags and collapsing boots.
He managed to coax fashion fireworks from plain gray knits — here an elegantly crumpling cardigan, there a cape-topped tube dress, the gesture of a folded arm providing some of the drama — the slouchy footwear the rest. Ditto fuzzy coats the shape of violas, or plush T-shirts etched with the shapes of Loewe’s geometric Puzzle bag.
From start to finish, the clothes, the bags and the shoes kept the audience rapt.
Guests had to drive way, way, way out to a 14th-century fortress, the Château de Vincennes, traversing a drawbridge and then stepping into a big white box set in the courtyard.
Inside, security guards shooed people away from 21 colorful cubes dotted throughout the set: They were sculptures by Italian artist Lara Favaretto made with 10 tons of paper confetti, which her teams stamped on like grapes in wooden boxes that were removed just before people arrived.
They crumbled a little from vibrations as people walked by, adding a tension to the show — and also serving as a metaphor for Anderson, packed to the brim with fashion ideas, but letting them leak out slowly.
During a backstage scrum, Anderson clutched a cup of coffee and explained how the castle setting was a metaphor for the heritage house of Loewe, established in 1846. It was a history he had to face when he became creative director in 2013.
“And suddenly you’re confronted with a white box,” he said, referring to the runway venue on Friday and the blank page he encountered a decade ago, for the Spanish brand had leather goods know-how galore, yet a faint fashion legacy.
“There’s something about presenting clothing in this way,” he explained. “You’re forced to look at the clothing. I still haven’t got past the idea of going out of the white box because I’m still thinking of silhouette.”
Yet he did venture outside the box with accessories, mentioning that for the first time in his tenure, all of the handbags shown on the runway, including the squishy Squeeze bag and another resembling a bird’s nest, were inspired by 1970s styles from the Loewe archive.
“When I first joined Loewe, I rejected all of it. And it’s the first time I’ve kind of been embracing the idea of the historical leather house,” he confessed, enthusing: “That’s the beauty of fashion that you can revisit, reinterpret, reengineer.”
Ditto the confetti. After the show, all of it was gathered to be reused for future Favaretto installations.