As we wind down from the euphoria and rush of phygital runway festivities – namely Paris Fashion Week AW21 – it’s almost second nature for any fashion lover to take time out to reflect on the highlights of the week, and figure out what fashion holds for the “uncertain” – yet hopeful – times ahead. Essentially, one must be honest with oneself and try to make sense of the flurry of back to back designs that have been presented… what did we just see? What did we actually like? What are we buying online (or collecting in store, socially-distanced) ASAP?
Looking back now, it should be apparent that Jonathan Anderson’s vibrant and high-spirited designs for Loewe Ready-to-Wear 2021 (despite not necessarily being shown in digital format) were without a doubt the standout of all the presentations this season. If not, don’t worry, here’s an explanation as to why it was.
Creativity is not dead!
Thanks to Jonathan Anderson, we know for sure that creativity – despite the dire times we’ve recently endured and overcome – is not dead! It’s hard not to be hopeful after fixing your eyes on Loewe’s recent presentation. Fittingly titled “A show in the News” – presented in newspaper format and conveniently placed within various actual newspapers globally for all to discover – Mr. Anderson’s latest offering as expected showcased pieces that are at the height and precipice of creativity, colour use and elaborate design. From the plentiful rainbow of options – which Anderson succinctly justifies as “colour therapy” – to the unconventional patterns and striping used, there was an apparent richness of unrelenting creative freedom that consistently rang true. These are clothes that are made for those who still want to dress up and show out unapologetically, those with an imperishable desire for striking designs, come rain or shine. Jonathan Anderson is teaching us to dictate the times and how we feel about the future, not the other way round. Or as the famously calm, collected, yet equally high-spirited Caribbeans say “We run things, things don’t run we!”
An unseen-before, modern upkeep of the chic-ness of yesteryear
Arguably, the pieces and setting were a little refreshing step away from our love of the aggressive, rawness of say Matthew Williams’ Givenchy and Rick Owens’ AW21 dystopias (the latter having shown his beautifully dramatic floor-length puffer jackets on a concrete dock, by a cold and distant coast, eerily akin to somewhere out by Rikers or Alcatraz Island).
Jonathan’s Loewe for AW21 instead opted for a modern – and “future” – interpretation of the vivacious 60s-70s chic, set in what looked like an heirloom palatial venue, with all the dated and ostentatious – yet beautiful – furnishings to match. The setting itself told an elaborate story: from indoor palm leaves towering over the models and their quiff bob hair-dos, to the yellow flooring, brown marble wall designs, wooden walls & partitions, a giant clock and gold cockerel statue. Not forgetting the touch of added modernity from high-street fashion-display-like mirrored boxes surrounding the models. All the features made for images that elegantly spoke 1,000 words – old and new.
The pieces themselves were just as rich and abundant, from colour to material, finishes & accessories. Colourfully psychedelic swirls, stripes and graphic prints on the blouses gave gentle reminders of groovier times, but with a forward-thinking twist to fit today’s era. A featured multi-colored leather harness, on top of a jumpsuit reinterpretation of a cashmere jumper, was the perfect embodiment of that. Despite taking inspiration from the past – a past that ventured into experimental prints and fabrics like Anderson – these designs were nothing of the ordinary, and most definitely not like we’ve seen before. Just look at the beaded, frilled and shawled white long sleeve dress that exposes one leg, and topped off with a distinctly bold and animated pink & red striped zig-zag across its center (Jonathan didn’t hold back on the variety and options, this dress is also available in black…oh, and in blue with black). The show even managed to revive tailored culotte bottoms; some colourful, some embellished, some leather. Anderson cross breeds bold fashion disciplines and creative techniques, to the point that the potential clashing of worlds actually make for symbiotic harmony.
Going BIG, not going home…
Some of the sizing on accessories and finishes on designs bordered on the comical and impractical, yet amazing and desirable still. After all, what is practical about the times we’re in? Take the array of large and chunky bangles, including an oversized, gold piece engraved with signature Loewe motifs: a hand adornment hard to miss. Another example: oversized tassels – fit for 20 foot ballroom curtains – at the hem of some of the jackets and trousers on show. Or take the expanded, accordion-bellow looking cardigan (or overcoat?), that clasps and covers at the forehands, leaving enough space for you to hold a bag. What about the see-through bag itself, only made up of brown leather pieces of the Loewe “L”. A mix between partially impractical (to the boring man, that is) and fully desirable.
All in all, Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe this season was a masterclass in boundless creativity. What’s more is he is all about using design to speak into the future. In his own words, “believe and it will happen”. So many elements inspire a hopeful and joyous outlook to the future of fashion. Perhaps, a very prophetic projection of “what a new reality will hopefully be”. The images show you better than I can tell you…