By Ashley Han
Jonathon Anderson’s embrace of stylish craft is paying off for Loewe, setting the Spanish house apart from those that bank on brash sexiness or tired retro-vibes to get ahead of the industry and social media crush. Not to be confused with those home-based products of dressmakers that appear in fairs around town, Mr Anderson’s approach is always within sight of his sharp fashion eye. To be certain, not many women are swayed by the aesthetic that does not seem to immediately exhale the deliberately cool. But there’s something deeply alluring about clothes that have both visual and tactile qualities that seem to hark back to olden days.
Last Friday afternoon, while browsing at the trim shop set up by Metro on the main atrium of the Paragon, the Loewe store caught my attention more than tinsel did. I wanted to have a look at the knitted ‘Botanical’ bag that is a symmetrical tapestry jacquard inspired by English architect Charles Voysey’s textiles. But what drew me close almost as soon as I stepped into the soothingly-lit store is a sling bag. This is based on an earlier (and “sold out”, as the sales assistant told me) version known as Heel Pouch.
I don’t know what a heel has to do with the bag. I could only assume that its shape is similar to the cross-section of a stacked heel. The store staff was not able to shed light either. In any case, the latest version—larger than the last—is alluring because of the floral motif on its front. The sales assistant was keen to point out that the flower is composed of “leather marquetry” and enthusiastically explained to me how it was achieved.
Loewe’s use of leather marquetry—essentially inlaid design made from small pieces of coloured hide—appeared in 2016 and was even exhibited as decoratived details on furniture at last year’s Salone de Mobile in Milan. This time, the floral design on the Heel Pouch is, I believe, more exquisite than what were shown before.
Despite the Oriental hints, what beckoned before me was Scottish in visual provenance. ‘Blackthorn’, as it is called is based on architect/water colourist Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s water colour and pencil study of the flowers of sloe. The inlay is so fine and fluid that there is a painterly quality about it. Every piece, every sliver of the composition looks like brush stroke. The spirit of Mackintosh was not lost. What was also irresistible to me was that this Heel Pouch costs nearly as much as what you’d have to pay for cerrain sneakers. I say, give me a hand-crafted calf leather bag any time.
Loewe Heel Pouch (L), SGD1,850, is available at Loewe stores. Photo: Jim Sim