PARIS, France — The Marcel Breuer-designed Maison de l’UNESCO, with its Meditation Garden by Tadao Ando, is an art piece in itself. Combine that setting with Jonathan Anderson’s own ravening curatorial appetites and the Loewe show on Friday morning promised an immersive aesthetic experience — with added fashion. It didn’t disappoint.
Anderson has talked about how much he would love to be an artist. He turned his presentation into an exhibition of sorts. The backdrop was Joan Miró’s ceramic mural Wall of the Moon, the restoration of which has been underwritten by Loewe. The walls were hung with male nudes by George Platt Lynes, from Anderson’s own collection. The audience perched on cubes, some Yves Klein blue, some gold.
The Perspex ones were filled with consumer detritus: razor blades, brillo pads, talc bottles, which looked like exotic exhibits. And you could interpret the hypnotic spoken-word recording on the soundtrack as a soundpiece. It was actually “I Am Now a Non-Smoker,” a tape from the Harley Street Stop Smoking Clinic. The designer has also admitted to being a heavy smoker.
Elevating the banal is something that obsesses Anderson. One of his first looks today incorporated a skirt made from rubber bands. A dominant motif was the pendants of cat faces and masks. Maybe it’s because Loewe is a Spanish company that we thought they might have been copies of Picasso ceramics.
No, the mask was South American; the cat came from a charm bracelet. “They’re just objects,” Anderson said dismissively. But he couldn’t be so cavalier about the clothes, which moved through the gallery space he’d created like elegantly sculpted forms, the torso tightly moulded, accented by leather corseting or wraps or painted-on latex, the skirts swooping into the aerodynamic flou of precise handkerchief points.
Loewe always represented an apogee of artisanship, but there was something old school, slightly ponderous about it. Anderson has lightened Loewe, roughened it, added sensuality, sunlight, movement and humour. In his new collection, he showed dresses that were as easy as a t-shirt, draping one of them in silvery glittering metal links that could almost have been ring pulls (again, that elevation).
He also told a fringe story, with tweeds that dissolved into a froth of threads at hem and waist. The rawness fit what he’s been doing with Loewe’s men’s collection, “going into the wilderness,” he called it in January. If there was a little seductive wildness in the flare of his handkerchief hems, it merely emphasised that Anderson has never been more in control. He goes from strength to strength.