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Paris Day Five: Civilised Subversion at Loewe

After 10 years as creative director, Jonathan Anderson has defined a new attitude for the Spanish brand.
Loewe Spring/Summer 2024
Loewe Spring/Summer 2024 (Indigital)

PARIS — Jonathan Anderson has perfected the art of attitude in fashion. His clothes often call for a gesture — or the suggestion of one. In the women’s collection he showed for Loewe on Friday morning, models walked with fists tucked determinedly into the pockets of super-high waisted pants. Or they stuffed their hands into slash pockets set high on the stomach of tweedy blazers. Or they firmly grasped the straps of shoulder bags into which one tail of their long leather coats had been tucked. Or they simply kept their hands in their pockets, perhaps resisting the urge to pull out the long pin which kept the waistband of their baggy shorts in place. Later, there was a long dress which sported a fold of fabric at the front also held by a pin. What kind of chaos would ensue if you removed it? It felt like the kind of question a conceptual artist might pose. Which meant it fit right in with Anderson’s scheme of things. He has developed one of the most riveting careers in fashion by artfully subverting banality. That pin? So common and yet, in this context, so challenging.

The high-waisted pants were a continuation of the men’s collection Anderson showed in June. He mentioned the idea of a shared wardrobe, but that clearly wasn’t as interesting to him as the inspiration he’d drawn from the work of the American artist Lynda Benglis, now 81 and enjoying a flush of re-evaluation in the art world. She collaborated on the fine jewellery for the collection. But it was her general bolshy rule-breaking that drew Anderson. He recommended that the press throng assembled for his post-show thoughts check out Benglis’s piece “Smile”, or, even better, the “advertisement” she created for the November 1974 issue of Art Forum that inspired “Smile”. I’ll say no more.

Benglis in her rabblerousing 1970s incarnation may even have informed the schoolboy look of the models: short hair, side part, bumfluff sideburns. Anderson said he was actually thinking of Liza Minnelli. “How could you deglamorise a Minnelli look?” That sounded like a quintessentially perverse Andersonism. More to the point, the boyish mien of the models signalled the core ambiguity of that key high-waisted silhouette, especially when it was delivered in a white oxford shirt (or “micro-blouse” in JW-speak) and white jeans. “Is it English? Is it American? Is it Ralph [assume Lauren]? What is it?” Anderson’s rhetorical questions only enhanced the ambiguity. And then he revealed that inside that high waist was a small corset, an intimate piece of lingerie gripped by standard denim.

There are times when you feel like Anderson truly enjoys confusion. The show opened with a chunky knit tube, buttoned in gold, like a long, sleeveless cardigan over baggy chambray jeans. There was a randomness to a look such as the boy-checked shirt and olive green jumper paired with a skirt that collapsed into a long asymmetric ruffle, or the diaphanous bell-sleeved dress that suddenly appeared, a beauty that seemed to be woven from glowing man’o’war tentacles. But that randomness is, of course, often the point with Anderson. It creates the chaos he distills into his supremely ordered (tightly silhouetted) collections. And on Friday, he emphasised it with a soundtrack which included a male voice crisply enunciating a list of dozens of random names. Jackie Chan! Sailor Moon! And, yes, Liza Minnelli!

Further Reading

About the author
Tim Blanks
Tim Blanks

Tim Blanks is Editor-at-Large at The Business of Fashion. He is based in London and covers designers, fashion weeks and fashion’s creative class.

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