Jonathan Anderson is always slightly ahead of the pack. It was he who first put men in frills and bloomers and boob tubes and all the other gender-redefining things we’re regularly seeing on menswear runways now. It was also he who, after being appointed creative director of Loewe in 2013, tacitly ushered in the 'see now, buy now' fever that’s sweeping the industry. He didn’t commit quite in the same way as Burberry and co - his clothes still hit shops after a delay - but he certainly questioned why fashion isn’t more public facing by plastering his new campaigns all around Paris on kiosk boxes the same day they’re revealed to the press alongside the featured collection. In that sense, everyone’s invited to his presentations.
I mused on that 'finger-on-pulse' sensibility as I wandered through the intimate space where his Loewe presentations are always held. In some ways this collection felt packed with ideas and almost naïve in its joyfulness and eccentricity. Anderson talked of being inspired by youthful notions of what it means to dress freely - which explains the cheerful colours, the tactility, the amazing technicolored dream coat (also a stylist’s dream). There’s always a vaguely innocent feel to many of Anderson’s pieces for Loewe, largely due to the focus on craft. Items often look touched-by-hand, or even strangely off-kilter - which gives them a refreshing allure when so many other items on show at fashion week look fresh-from-the-factory faultless and therefore like the product of machines. Yet on the other hand, there’s the side to Anderson’s work that feels like an attempt to own the 'now' rather than predict the future. Indeed, the collection felt so so very very now - the on-trend vaguely seventies hues, the little, slightly gimmicky, accessories that allow a younger shopper to buy into the brand, the cartoonish oversized pieces (bags that looked like blown-up wallets, for example). The most obvious example of this was a strange slogan that rang across many pieces - 'The Loewe Street Journal' (a play on The Wall Street Journal, just in case you missed that). A pun? At a Loewe collection? It felt like an odd addition. Under the title was a tagline, 'It Brings You Business.' I guess that’s the aim - this will bring in shoppers who like a showier product in exchange for their money, something more obviously branded than the simple, directional leather pieces elsewhere in the collection. This tussle between commerciality and concept is what makes the fashion world go round, but Anderson is at his best when he’s working more freely and leaning towards the latter.