PARIS, France — Jonathan Anderson is a designer who revels in the perplexing, but the only thing unexpected about his new Loewe collection was its rustic charm. It’s something he’s already done very well at Loewe: approaching the luxury label’s Spanish heritage from left field, focusing not on sleek, chic urban gloss, but on the handcrafts of the finca. Formentera, not Madrid. Except it was Cuenca, with its extraordinary mushroom-shaped rock formations, and psychedelic mineral deposits, that Anderson was inspired by this time round.
So, the mushroom was a key visual motif and the primordial nature of the landscape made Anderson very partial to a primitive finish. “Going into the wilderness,” he called it. Wrap coats in very traditional herringbone and glen plaid were ragged little things. A trenchcoat looked like it had actually seen action in the trenches. There was a home-loomed feel to linen shirts, which featured a raw animalier pattern on the pocket. A pin-tucked smock was more of the same. A classic striped shirt was perforated with dozens of little holes (based on cigarette burns, according to the designer). “The most normal collection I’ve done, but the most difficult,” said Anderson. “The textiles were very time-consuming.”
And that’s the paradox of such faux-rusticity. It takes a huge amount of sophistication to produce. As farmhand-friendly as it looked, the collection showed another face with items like the knitted cashmere robes that looked like Rothko paintings, but were actually based on Indonesian ceremonial cloth from the 15th century. If there was a traditional linen crochet top, there was also another one where the crochet was rubber. Leopard-printed shearling was treated like finest mink. Anderson is a regular Janus of a designer.
He designs a blanket to go with each Loewe launch. That’s very much in line with his appreciation of the artisanal. This season’s was in quilted linen. That seemed like an appropriate full stop to an oddly irresistible collection.