The stereotypical haute bourgeoisie has had a hard time of it recently: with her erstwhile bastions of staid sophistication (Celine, Hermes, even at one time Balmain) overrun with young whippersnappers more concerned with catwalk spectacle and magazine editorial than the what, when and wear of ladies-who-luncheon, she's had nowhere to turn to for her sartorial satisfaction. Fret not mesdames, as the latest Loewe collection by Stuart Vevers - one of those young 'uns as luck would have it - has unexpectedly come to the rescue. Witness half-silk half-guipure cocktail dresses with high necks and neat little belts, to-the-knee boucle and checked tweed suits with a fillip of movement to the hem, the perfect kidskin glove, the perfect veiled pillbox, and a sensible handbag to boot. But look again. That pillbox was rendered in fur, the boucle suit was inset with leather panels or flanked with thick fox, while fur snapped at the ankles of high block-heeled shoes like an ill-tempered Pomeranian: ode to bourgeoisie it may have seemed, but as always Vevers' tongue was firmly in cheek. Or perhaps that should be chic, as despite his dips into 'le gag', the clothes, as always at Loewe, were the very epitome of elegance.
Switching tempo from the sporty flashes of fluoro for spring, this predominantly dark collection caught onto the Autumn/Winter mood for dressing up and sharpening up. There were shades of the sixties in brief, fitted skirt-suits and those high-collared sheath-dresses - although rather than the vintage rag-bag sexy secretary cliches we've seen rehashed all over, Loewe's oozed luxury. This was employer rather than employee, with an air of repressed Belle de Jour sexuality bubbling underneath (maybe it was all those point d'esprit stockings that did it). At the same time, there were touches of the eighties: strong shouldered suits with trousers so fabulously high-waisted they were belted twice, curvy evening tailcoats in a reprise of Saint Laurent, and a healthy dose of furs, feathers and general ostentatious frippery.
Those were the fashion references, but Loewe is always, refreshingly, about very real clothes that can be appreciated, and worn, by any woman with an eye for extreme luxury. That indeed is Vevers' mantra, and whether you interpret that as a cappuccino-coloured kidskin frock as light as said caffeinated froth, or a hardy leather-trimmed wool blazer double-breasted in burnished brass buttons, here it was, and plenty of it. Extreme times call for extreme luxury. And there wasn't a woman in the audience not hankering after some piece of it, believe you me.