- NICOLE PHELPS
Loewe -- SPRING 2023 READY-TO-WEAR
It’s useful to think of this Loewe show as a companion piece to the JW Anderson collection in London. Whereas there Jonathan Anderson was prodding us into questioning the fakeness behind our screens, here he set out to explore the fake in nature. A giant fiberglass anthurium grew out of a hole in the floor in his show location, and he adapted the unreal-looking flower for clothing, molding bodices that wrapped around the torso and bra cups out of the suggestive blooms. These were not femme fleurs in the way fashion used to conceive of the term—for one thing the anthurium’s nubbly spadix looks like nothing so much as an erect phallus; for another the flower is poisonous. The women who will wear these dresses fancy themselves more dangerous than dainty.
There’s a new element of provocation to Anderson’s work since the pandemic, an upping of the fashion ante that had his audience on the edge of their seats today. Part of the attraction of Loewe is the show before the show. This season, it included the costume designer Sandy Powell, the musicians Oliver Sim and Dev Hynes, the actors Maude Apatow and Hari Nef, and, on the runway in look 1, Taylor Russell, who stars alongside Timothée Chalamet in the Luca Guadagnino film Bones and All (the trailer of which was released just yesterday).
Russell wore a strapless black velvet dress with panniers jutting out from the hips, a silhouette lifted out of the Baroque period via the 1920s robe de style that is once again appearing on the runways. Anderson revisited it in three other colors. Repetition was a motif in and of itself here. There was another quartet of strange dresses whose fronts were swagged and suspended from triangular wire peaks that reached up toward the face. Still more short styles—you could hardly call them dresses—were made from enameled metal painted with flowers. As for the babyless baby carriers, they looked sort of like fabric-covered versions of the gold breastplates that made such an impression on the Loewe runway a year ago. It all goes back to the anthurium flower, which Anderson’s show notes described as “a product of nature that looks like an object of design and [was] treated as such.”
The difference between industrial design and clothes is the body, and Anderson’s experiments with fiberglass and metal pose a question: Do they prohibit movement or help the women who wear them take up space? Ambiguities aside, there were softer pieces that showcased the Spanish brand’s know-how with leather, like oversized shirtdresses and sweatshirt dresses with split arms that let the limbs swing free, as well as romantic evening numbers whose delicate fabrics were gathered with bows at the waist.
Anderson called the tops and trousers in the pixelated squares of Minecraft glitches “this odd illusion that suddenly breaks the pattern,” like avatars from the virtual world made flesh. Real fakes. Anderson keeps pushing the limits.