Loewe’s autumn/winter 2021 collection proves that Jonathan Anderson is one of the best designers of his generation
It has been one season’s high after another. Jonathan Anderson’s output at Loewe continuously grips us with “what will he think of next?” And thought he has. This season Loewe proudly declares—as a Daily Bugle-worthy headline—that their seasonal “show has been cancelled”, not of course, unceremoniously, but necessarily. Without the alternative of a video offering (or a phygital show), the Spanish brand puts out, instead, a series of photos, in the vein of a print editorial (but more like an advertorial), modelled entirely by Freja Beha. Are photographs less evocative than a catwalk show, even one without an audience? Not in the case of Loewe. No audience does not mean no reach. In case you do not follow them on social media, the collection is presented, “as a newspaper supplement distributed around the world (with broadsheets such as French dailies Le Monde, and Le Figaro and the American paper The New York Times) on the day the show was due to take place, accompanied by an exclusive preview of bestselling author Danielle Steel’s newest novel, The Affair,” according to the brand.
Yes, that’s the “uncritically acclaimed” American romance novelist whose many characters of wealth could be inspiration behind the styling of Ms Beha, photographed in the 1900 Parisian restaurant Le Train Bleu (The Blue Train, so named also because it’s located inside the train station Gare du Lyon), as well as Mr Anderson’s office, and an unknown members’ club on Champs-Élysées. Allusion to women of means and club privé access aside (or, “a legendary editor-in-chief at one of New York’s top fashion magazines” in The Affair?), the clothes do not share the literary styling of Ms Steel that critiques have generally and summarily called “fluff”. In fact, this could be Mr Anderson’s strongest collection yet, weighted in such exactitude of design and detail that some pieces seemed destined for private collections or museums’, to be kept for future display and admiration.
Mr Anderson appears to have moved aside from his love of craft, but not entirely. There are little touches here and there: presumably-made-by-hand tassels, larger than those on curtain tie-backs, fringe hems of jackets, skirts, and pants with a touch of whimsy that is missing in a season still ensnared in the practical and the mundane; diagonal squares of raffia-like fabric that forms a bib on dresses; and droll, oversized fabric ‘buckles’ (some embroidered) that work like brooches on draped bodices are some of the details that won’t disconnect Mr Anderson from the craft that he has introduced to Loewe. On a “walkthough” video, pointing out the finer points of the collection, he said that he and his team, “looked a lot at draping.” These were seen in the graceful but playful folds that fall across the body, held in place by the said buckles, and arranged graphically, as if they are Matisse squares and swirls. The same could be said of the appliqué stripes, running across the front and backs of coats, with an effect nearly akin to a kindergartener given free reign with a paint brush.
The coats are outstanding this season. We are entranced by one style that has colour-blocked sleeves and are shaped like water skins. These half-moons could have been bags! They contrast beautifully with the quilted body and handkerchief-point hems. It could be hackneyed to join the designs with couture shapes, but big and bold are the order of the day. These coats were photographed in Le Train Bleu, which seems to suggest that they are the statement outwear that women will be lured to when going out and a full-blown social calendar can resume. However, not every look in the collection is about wine and dine, fun and play. Those, whose life tends to be circumscribed by corporate walls, too, could have a piece of Loewe. The office-setting message can’t be clearer, and the sharp tailored pieces too. Whatever one’s social situation or how one’s near future will turn out, one can’t negate that Loewe has presented clothes to covet.