PARIS, France — Jonathan Anderson’s curatorial passions know no bounds. When he encountered Duane Michals’s ghostly photographic narratives in a museum, he immediately thought the New Yorker would be perfect for Loewe. A connection was made, a commission was issued, originally for a dozen images, for the new men’s collection. Michals delivered 60 gelatin silver prints. “I’ve got more energy than you have,” was the 84-year-old’s provocative justification to Anderson, aged 33.
Those sixty pictures constitute possibly the most fabulous lookbook in fashion history. They’re broken up into mini-stories in which a magician, played by Josh O’Connor, the breakout sensation of British Brokeback "God’s Own Country", changes a model into a different look in each sequence. There’s a crisp vintage quality in the black and white photographs, but there’s also wit, humour and cinematic flair. You know you’re looking at the work of a master.
You could say the same thing about the collection that Michals’s photos were promoting. Anderson has created a winsome but weird world for himself at Loewe, a world in which sneakers with toes curling skywards, like a genie’s slippers, seem perfectly suitable. The ordinary is transmuted by artisanal quirk. So, in Anderson’s new proposals, a duffel coat acquired a shaggy shawl of Mongolian lamb. Its toggles became tiny ceramic amphorae (an utterly beautiful detail!). A plain linen shirt was transfigured into a lesson in the art of knotting, Mediterranean-style. The name LOEWE was picked out in rope on a sweatshirt. Bags were tagged with little leather woodland creatures: owls, squirrels, hedgehogs. You might almost assume that the patchwork on a coat had been done by a little old crone in a Balearic backwater. This wasn’t the whole story. There were distinctive, desirable suedes, leathers and bags, the stalwarts of the Loewe saga. But Anderson has insinuated something strange and wonderful into the centuries-long heritage of this brand. And he intends it to last. Looking at Michals’s extraordinary contribution, he said, “My dream is that these images will be pulled out for years to come.”