Stuart Vevers may be idiosyncratically, quintessentially British, but Loewe is a very Spanish house. It still has its headquarters and workrooms in Madrid, where the artisans channel centuries of expertise into crafting some of the finest (in both sense of the word) leathergood imaginable.
Vevers' remit is to give all that craft a high-fashion spin, but for Spring/Summer 2012 he looked back to the Loewe heritage and to an idea of Spain to inspire his collection. There's a dual challenge - making leather clothing for a summer, and for a Spanish summer at that. With plays on perforation and an injection of soft silk in dresses and blouses, Vevers let that idea inform his design ethos, but not to dominate it. After all, the Loewe woman is one of the thoroughly cocooned and air-conditioned privileged few. She's also probably more than willing to suffer a mild dose of heat rash and a few fainting fits to wear Vevers' luscious leatherage.
This time, Vevers' palette was controlled and dark - anthracite suede, mahogany calf, navy and burnished gold alongside flashes of bright red. Those colours felt dark for summer, but the lustrous surfaces of the leathers and fabrics would be perfectly showcased in blazed Iberian sunshine. Some of those suits were fettered with cut-outs like a fretwork screen, or perforated all across the surface, a neat solution to Vevers constant summer challenge of how to make skins both elegant and wearable. That mantra extended to this whole collection. There was an air of the thirties and forties to much, skirt lengths hovering just below the knee (we had some leather short-shorts, but as beach-wear with a button-up little nappa jacket they made perfect sense). Al that billowing silk was worked into block-patterned dresses and blouses that vaguely resembled Spanish tiling. It also tapped into the Deco mood for sharp colour contrasts and sleek graphicism, something that also applied to the aeration in the leathers. Of special note were a series of dresses and skirts constructed in horizontal bands of suede and patent leather, with openwork seams forming their own rigorous pattern of skin and, well, skin. Animal and human respectively.
That sounds terribly mature for a man once dubbed part of London's junior style mafia, but Vevers is an astute and undeniably talented designer, and not just when it comes to accessories. More than that, however, after almost four years in the house he understands his Loewe customer perfectly. There was nothing in this collection she wouldn't ache to wear immediately.