It’s just so refreshing to see the work of a designer not duty-bound to trends. Jonathan Anderson does not walk alongside the diffident; he does not need to hold what’s in vogue by the hand to steady his gait. He has a distinct way with tweaking the familiar for smile-inducing results. He has a flair for giving what are considered classics, such as a tea dress, and making them modern, without taking away the insouciance. He has the capacity to offer the unexpected without alienating. All these he does with great élan for Loewe.
Looking back at his brief tenure isn’t necessary; study his latest collection and one immediately sees not only freshness but clarity, not just potential, but a future. Mr Anderson does not depend on scarily extreme ornamentation or meaningless sexiness to forge an identity for Loewe. He looks at what women are inclined to buy (possibly splurge on) and refine those items judiciously, to the point that they there are different and unusual, yet identifiable as welcome wardrobe occupants.
So, we were charmed: Peaked lapels can truly peak so that they are parenthesis for a beautifully patterned neckline of a sweater. A Bertha collar can have a scallop edge and be embroidered but totally escape looking Victorian or girlish. A tartan dress can appear a little-bit-country, a-little-bit-avant-garde and all-alluring. An bold-stripe dress can, with pleating, be skewed so that there’s nothing linear about the result. A classic sweater can go with a craft-like skirt that’s composed of circles like grandma’s old yo-yo quilts. A one-sleeve can be layered atop a capped-sleeved dress without making the wearer look like she’s marching to some deviant nightclub. This is only the beginning of a list—54, if it were to be numbered.
As Mr Anderson continues to push LVMH-owned Loewe to a new pinnacle, new fans were wondering why they had not known of the Madrid-based brand’s ready-to-wear line before. Until Mr Anderson’s arrival at the house, few people were aware that it had a very sizeable ready-to-wear business established in the ’70s. In Southeast Asia, Loewe is mostly associated with leather goods—the Amazona bag, launched in 1945, a perennial favourite. Despite its hitherto low-key fashion division, some of the rag trade’s most notable designers had contributed to the line. These include Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Narciso Rodriguez, and Stuart Vevers (now at Coach), Mr Anderson’s predecessor.
But what was never attempted before Mr Anderson was to let the brand take a more directional course. Mr Anderson’s appointment is a typical LVMH masterstroke: bringing designers who can rock the boat, but only just, unlike John Galliano who rocked Dior’s so hard he fell off it and was never brought back aboard. Mr Anderson has created a vibration so pleasing that, in the process, spun clothes consistent with the adage, fashion makes me people dream.
Mr Anderson is a two-brand designer, deftly keeping the energy level up for both Loewe and his eponymous label, staying close to an almost otherworldly romanticism without the need for extreme aestheticism. Designers feeding social media frenzy tend not to get the balance right. Thankfully, Jonathan Anderson is not one of them.