Neurotic, Psychedelic, Completely Hysterical. Loewe SS22

Sometimes, it’s great when nothing makes sense. “Neurotic, psychedelic, completely hysterical” are the terms describing the latest Loewe collection by Jonathan Anderson. After months of digital presentations, the designer was on a mission to mark his comeback runway show at Loewe with a massive creative change. “We’ve had the pandemic, and now we have to come out of it different,” he said. “I think it’s a moment of experimentation. If you’re going to reset after this period, you need to allow a moment to birth a new aesthetic. Start again.” It took place in a purpose-built “blank space.” No props, no artworks, no available rabbit holes of reference to divert attention: just clothes. Three long black column dresses to begin with. Minimal – except for the fact that each had a metal structure beneath, each one thrusting a different 3D geometric shape from stomach, shoulder, hip. The notorious “lumps and bumps” Comme des Garçons collection comes to mind instantly. Then three more ankle-length tube-dresses, one in a blurry pale blue and flesh-colored print; one pale gray, the next primrose yellow. So, was Anderson about to offer up an elegantly calm, relatively straightforward palate-cleansing antidote to the complexities and confusions of stepping out into the world again? Not so fast. He has a restless mind, always fighting against the too-obvious response. “In a weird way, I wanted the collection to be hysterical,” he said. “So that there’s a tension. Because this is a strange moment.” The collection had no moodboard behind, but Anderson provided one clue behind the passages of pastel blues and pinks, the swags and wraps of chiffon – and the wing-like shoulder structure that suddenly threw the collection off the straight and narrow. It was a picture of The Deposition from the Cross, painted by the Italian Mannerist artist Jacopo Pontormo in Florence 1528. Anderson liked all the “ hysteria” of the figures in the painting; something resonated. Back to the collection, there are even more exciting details to love. His fresh-start innovation combined ribbed jersey T-shirt material with golden breastplates – an echo, perhaps, of Claude Lalanne’s work for Yves Saint Laurent in the 1960s. There was an elevation of everyday fabric – white tanks terrifically teamed with chiffon balloon pants—and conceptual reworking of athletic tracksuits in taffeta. “Elevating the normal” as Anderson put it. On the feet were strappy shoes with heels surreally made from birthday candles, bottles of nail polish, a bar of soap. Bags in lavender or red were made from stiff teddy-bear fabric. Nothing made “sense” – but that was the daring and the fascination of this collection. We’re living in surreal times. Jonathan Anderson gets that, and is reflecting it back. Such experimentation with fashion is truly rare these days. Bravo to him for that.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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