J.W Anderson knows the Loewe woman. Arty. Self-assured. Uncompromisingly individual. The sort of woman who gets style spotted at Art Basel and Frieze for her eclectic elegance – a look she’s been sporting since her art school days. Think awkward length dresses, colour palettes that are more Kandinsky than Kardashian and accessories that look like craft projects. Very luxurious craft projects – this is a glitter glue free zone.
For SS17, it was a case of life imitating art. The clothes, some a mixture of linen, cotton and hessian-esque fabrics, resembled raw canvas. With frayed edges and uneven hemlines, the pieces resembled works in progress, the foundation for things to come. From there, the looks were built up – a leather corset belt here, a raffia patch there. Gradually, patterns were introduced in the form of fresh white and blue stripes before colours started to graduate from bruised shades of eggshell, jade and chocolate to saturated yellow ochre, hot pink and cyan. Patterned and patchworked dresses alluded to art movements – a bit cubist, a bit abstract – but the true artistry lay in the way pieces were cut. Balloon sleeves and parachute hems spoke of both utility dressing and the folk blouses of the brand’s Spanish heritage – a reworking of the past for today. Ultra-long sleeves, some trimmed with straw-like fringing, shrouded the hands. Not terribly practical, perhaps, but this is a woman who likes to lounge on a Le Corbusier chaise in her Mid Century apartment while admiring her latest art auction purchase – she’s not pulling on her marigolds and doing the dishes in these pieces. If the sleeves weren’t long, the cuffs were big; arum lilies crafted from leather sprouted from the models’ wrists, sometimes so layered they looked like bouquets.
In fact, the accessories were works of art in themselves. The aforementioned cuffs popped up on ankles, drawing attention to the runway’s hybrid footwear – part penny loafer, part boot. Sock boots came complete with angular metal heels that would look at home propping up a Mid Century sofa, while Victoriana lace-ups had sculptural, towering Louis heels. And then there were bags. Oh, the bags. Squishy leather totes were clasped under the elbow or held insouciantly at arm’s length, letting the straps swing in line with the skirt hems. Fringe-trim satchel bags were printed to look like antique kilim while many designs featured multiple straps – these are interchangeable, giving you an easy way to pep up your Puzzle bag for the new season.
"For SS17, it was a case of life imitating art"
In fact, it’s the awareness that the Loewe customer likes to take things slow that’s important here; they still love the fit-and-flare silhouette, the midi length and the Avant Garde layering that has been present in recent collections. Loewe has decided against needlessly pushing their customer into new sartorial territories while they’re just getting comfortable; instead, the core DNA of the brand’s aesthetic is maintained with subtle mutations each season. Those cat necklaces from AW16? Meeting the SS17 bat. Puzzle bags are updated in new colours and patterns. Leather accents find themselves shifting to new outfit focal points. The silhouette remains constant but the fabric is renewed. The same, but different – which is a good thing. It’s similar to what Phoebe Philo does at Céline – she designs for a woman with a lifestyle and an attitude she understands inside and out. It’s how style tribes are formed – find a designer that ‘gets’ you and stick with it as, frankly, you wouldn’t feel ‘you’ if you wore anything else.
So buy yourself a Kelly Beeman painting, visit your nearest Guggenheim museum and go top-to-toe Loewe.