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There were barrels, bags and bats in Jonathan Anderson’s SS17 collection for The LVMH-owned house Loewe. The bags were elementary; the foundation blocks of the Spanish luxury leather house founded in 1846, each look here had been built around its bag. The bats were worn as pendants — huge, black, their wings outstretched across the model’s clavicles. According to Anderson, they represent good luck.
The barrels, meanwhile, were courtesy of a five-minute film by the artist Magali Reus, projected as a backdrop and depicting young men trying to retrieve great cobalt oil drums from the sea. The film played on repeat, each barrel retrieved then lost back into the water to be collected once again. Anderson had liked the idea of putting men in a women’s landscape. It was also a neat metaphor for the Sisyphean task of “building a brand”, he continued, and the challenges of presenting new ideas in a cogent way. That’s the trouble with fashion: as soon as one collection is presented on the catwalk, it starts to drift away.
This collection, however, was as calm and restful as its maritime companion was relentless. Anderson has spoken often of the pressures of working in this luxury climate, where he ricochets all over Europe weekly in his work for Loewe and as designer of his own eponymous JW Anderson label, but these clothes were anything but overworked. His summer show was a mirror of his AW16 collection, and many of the colours, styles and silhouettes on which he has previously drawn were echoed here. It was loose and lovely: fitted tops with long fluted sleeves were fringed with wool threads; skirts in three-quarter lengths had gently gathered hems. Natural fabrics like cotton and linen were mixed with richer landscape brocades and patchworks. Nappa leather dresses were slashed and overstitched. As with AW16, there was a focus on the waist, but where last season it was cinched and corseted right around the rib cage, here it was dropped and hip-slung in big tan leather bands.
Anderson’s other big passion, craft, was also here, and many of the looks had a make-do-and-mend charm about them. Arum lily accessories, like hand-beaten brassy trumpets, twisted around the arms and wrists: threads were left dangling to the floor (“more grounded,” said Anderson); a clutch bag was spun in ropes of woollen yarn, like the chicest of knitting accessories. There were basket weave leathers and a fringed “carpet” bag that was in fact a printed trompe l’oeil suede. Loewe leads the field for bags that are edgy, chic and deliciously tactile — the leather colours were sublime.
Much has been discussed about Anderson’s future. His star is in the ascendant, and various excitable rumours are currently circulating about where he might go next. As a brand, Loewe’s finances are obfuscated within the LVMH group’s consolidated reports. The last financial statement suggested the label is still working towards its potential. Anderson launched a fragrance last week — and is beginning to tease out the categories in an ambitious, classy way. The potential at Loewe is now palpable: it could sell by the barrel.