Grass-Sprouting Shoes And Clothes, But Nothing Potted About Them

Loewe goes grass planting, from the feet up. And that ‘Puzzle’ pants!

The strongest collection of PFW spring/summer 2023 season: May we declare Loewe? Let’s start from the very bottom: The shoes. Not since the debut season of Balenciaga’s Triple S Racer has there been anything this astonishing. Or, more original. The first pair, which could be the Flow Runner, is covered with weeds, as if the shoes, muddied, were left outside for too long and spring-time nature has taken over. Then there are the clothes—rustic weeds, too: One coat is half-blanketed with grass, one hoodie looks like a (still-growing) vertical garden, and a pair of trousers seems to be attacked by a botanical monster. At first we thought that the grass was very good artificial lawn carpet or some talented participant’s Project Runway ‘Challenge’. The footwear appears very much like some grass head animal adapted for feet!

According to Jonathan Anderson, these gardening experiments were conducted with Spanish designer Paula Ulargui Escalona, a graduate of the Istituto Europeo di Design Madrid, where she specialised in sustainable fashion and textile (her captivating and original Second Skin project is probably what brought Mr Anderson to her). Each shoe and outfit took 20 days to cultivate to achieve the desired shagginess. It is tempting to read eco-friendliness into Loewe’s grassy pursuits. And many have, referring to the clothes as thesis on our changing/damaged earth and its merciless climate. And, as there are references to technology, the need for balance between nature and the digital (even the meta?). Or, is Mr Anderson really saying that, in the end, nature will win, as she always has; we will not?

Many commentators called the Loewe presentation a glimpse of a possible “dystopian future”. Plants may be referenced but it is vastly different from the Dior ‘garden’ of a couple of days back. The set is really just a blank (or, contrary to the clothes and shoes, defoliated?) space, with just two pillars in an expanse of “blinding white”, as Loewe described it. This could be a representation of heaven, as seen in movies (we were thinking Morgan Freeman might cameo), or nothingness, as in the digital sphere (isn’t the metaverse a void until we fill it with the likenesses of this material world?). It is in this extreme whiteness that Mr Anderson is able to focus on the fashion, allowing you read whatever it is you wish it to communicate. And the message is surprisingly clear: clothes as we remember them.

After pushing menswear to the many possible extremes, including—unmistakably—dresses, Mr Anderson has now repositioned Loewe men to a form many, even those outside the parameters of fashion, would understand. A shirt looks like a shirt; a sweater looks like a sweater (even if the sleeves flap when you walk as they are not joined at the seams); a coat looks like a coat (even if is festooned, on one side, with doodads a modern man would be encumbered with or with tablet screens), trousers look like trousers (even if they are leggings or, as is a three-quarter-length pair, cleverly based on the house’s Puzzle bag). Their identifiability does not mean they’re not finessed. However solid the clothes, it is likely that the shoes will garner the most attention next time this year, especially those what-do-you-call-them? Paper bag boots, perhaps (if there are paper bag pants, why not footwear?)? These are so amazing in their simplicity and form, they make the abominable Yeezy NSLTD BT looked positively foolish. On the verdant lawn of Loewe, no mowing is at all required.

Photos: Loewe

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