The LOEWE factor.
The LOEWE factor.
The appointment of a young designer to invigorate a somewhat stale label isn’t exactly a ground breaking idea, but LVMH’s decision to hand J.W. Anderson creative control of Spanish luxury leather goods house LOEWE may just be one of the best moves the company has made.
With a history that stretches back to 1846, LOEWE is one of the oldest luxury goods houses in existence. With a firm reputation as one of the worlds leaders in luxury leather goods the 70’s saw the inception of the first women’s ready to wear collection. Before their meteoric rise to designer king pin status, Karl Lagerfeld and Giorgio Armani both freelanced for the brand lending their talents to the womenswear line.
It wasn’t until1996 when Narciso Rodríguez was appointed creative director for womenswear that LOEWE appeared on the Paris runway for the first time. Rodríguez exploited LOEWE’s masterful skill with leather to produce quiet, understated luxury season after season but the collections where never at the forefront of cutting edge innovation. After a lengthy tenure at the helm, Fall 2001 marked Rodríguez’ final outing for the house with a concise showing that juxtaposed masculine and feminine elements in a palate of black, white and silver with plenty of the trademark leather that the house is known for.
After skipping the Spring 2002 round of shows, Spaniard José Enrique Oña Selfa took the reigns of the Spanish house and Fall 2002 saw him present his freshman show for the label. The showing was not a highlight for the house, Oña Selfa appeared to follow trends but could he create them? An extended leave of absence followed and Spring 2007 saw LOEWE return to the runway under José’s direction. Fall 2007 marked the timely exit of the designer from the house, ironically with his strongest collection to date.
After packing up shop in London, former Mulberry accessory designer Stuart Vevers moved to Spain and was appointed creative director in July of 2007 and reintroduced us to the world of LOEWE with his Resort 2009 presentation. While at Mulberry, Vevers escalated the company to cult status with a string of must have bags and was awarded Accessory Designer Of The Year in 2006 by the British Fashion Council. This appointment seemed a very smart move by LVMH considering the history of LOEWE and leather but ready to wear was where the house was always lacking the ability to make headway. Style wise, the aforementioned Resort 2009 presentation was a clear departure from the labels former guise but still maintained the impeccable craftsmanship the brand is renowned for. The next few seasons saw solid collections of quality staples for the woman looking to build her wardrobe over time. Groundbreaking? No. Classics? yes. That was until Spring 2010. The LOEWE woman was all of a sudden a forward thinking fashion girl!
The next three years saw Vevers go from strength to strength and his voice as a ready to wear designer was starting to become apparent. Interesting fabrication technique and the continued experimentation with pelts and hide gave the classic silhouettes the updated tweak they so desperately needed. The use of print was becoming a signature and off set the rigidity of leather beautifully. Fall 2013 marked the final showing for Vevers and also saw the introduction of 5 mens looks on the runway for the first time.
October 2013 saw 29 year old Anderson take his place as creative director for the house of LOEWE. The first glimpse of what he had in store for the brand was delivered via the Spring 2015 Menswear season with J.W choosing to return to the original format of presentation over a fully fledged runway show.
Linen, silk, denim and of course, leather made up the tools Anderson used to deliver his message. The Meccano motif represents J.W’s ‘naive approach to rebuilding a brand’ and are emblazoned on t-shirts and sweaters. Standout pieces where those sensational Japanese denim jeans with the oversized turn-up, elongated silk tunics in black or khaki and the striped shirt that was fashioned from two silk scarves. The accessories where spot on and had that Anderson quirk that any of his fans have come to love. The lust inducing Anton backpack, chunky polished lace up bluchers and oversized knitted blanket scarves all make a great excuse to start saving!
Fast forward three months as Julia Nobis opens Anderson’s debut womenswear show for the label in a Flintstonesque ‘oro’ suede dress and block heeled black mules. Exit after exit the message was clear, now, thanks to J.W, LOEWE was THE label to watch. On first inspection one could be forgiven for mistaking the collection as the work of Phoebe Philo at Céline, sophisticated, understated luxury clothing that women want to wear. Judo belted pants in a rainbow of colour where the high point when it came to the leather work and, surprisingly, didn’t look out of place amongst the natural tones of linen and the expertly crafted macrame style knits in wheat tones.
In an outing that was just as much about the accessories as it was the garments an instant classic was born in the form of the Puzzle bag. Weather it be in a bright pop of colour, black edged suede or luxe croc skin, Anderson will no doubt have serious bagaholics lining up round the block to get their hands on one. If something a little less bold is your thing the croc envelope clutch will make a long lasting addition to your collection. Jewellery was non existent apart from a couple of pairs of brass toned sculptural earrings and those mules are sure to satisfy those on the hunt for an escape from the Birkinstock but don’t want to be teetering around an 8inch heel.
With critical acclaim from fashion insiders under his belt after Spring 2015, Anderson pushed a little harder with his Fall 2015 Menswear presentation. With a starting point of ‘the clothes in your closet that make you wonder why you bought them’, J.W took us on a trip that was like Noel Gallagher circa 1994 dressed in 70’s disco garb wearing Kurt Cobain’s sunglasses. White wide leg pants teamed with an oversized flight bomber jacket, blanket scarf and bug eyed sunglasses or a zip up Harrington all has Anderson’s tounge in cheek appeal but without any of the gimmick. These are clothes designed to be worn.
For ready to wear we where given a healthy dose of the 80’s in the best way possible. The genius that is J.W. Anderson lies within his ability to take something so clearly referential and make it look like something you’ve never seen before. Glossed patent leather, pleated lamé, wide leg herringbone pants and cropped leather bombers all conjure up images of 1984 but when delivered the Anderson way it has a futuristic aesthetic. It may have been the gradient oversized sunglasses that finished off every look but there was most defiantly a fashion cyborg undertone to the show. The puzzle bag was back in a whole new gamut of colours and there where a couple of new offerings in the form of a cute little bucket bag and a flap closure mini with a chain handle.
I think it’s safe to assume that LOEWE is now well and truly on track to becoming a driving force in both ready to wear and menswear thanks to Anderson’s vision and knack for creating pieces that challenge your perception of what fashion should be and make you dream of what it could be. With an ability to infuse his slightly twisted sensibility into a house with such a strong tradition steeped in history, Anderson is leading LOEWE toward the seldom realised situation where art and commerce reside side by side, and in a future so bright that you’ve gotta wear shades, I know where i’ll be getting mine!