A film by artist Margeil Neus, entitled Offshore, played on full bleed screens alongside the runway. The sound of ocean waves and the sight of swimmers in deep water, trying to grasp bobbing oil cans, felt oddly anxiety filled, physically impressive - yet mundanely melancholic. This season's preview ad campaign included an image of model Amber Valetta, scrambling across a backdrop of spiralled ropes 'in a manic attempt to regain control after having lost ground.' Any overtones of emotional 'edge' were made up for in an entirely confident collection - J.W. Anderson's best collection yet.
The extra long sleeve - so synonymous with fashion right now and surely something Anderson himself kicked off at his own label several moons ago - looked theatrically elegant today, rather than just irreverent. Waterproof silks, hessian cotton and raffia leather saw this collection as a continued grounding of sorts. Ruched drop-waist dresses saw the elegantly crafted Loewe woman return. Tulle netting, bubble hems and long, paisley-printed linen coats were all layers within her ever-revealing character. The house may have been talking about art a lot in its show notes, but this felt genuinely aspirational rather than lofty and esoteric. For instance, take the Loewe cat. A near pop icon, within one season, it has now re-emerged for S/S 17 as 'a lucky bat.'
The distant sound of a ship's foghorn within the soundtrack reminded one of the sound of a vibrating mobile phone within a pocket somewhere. One day, perhaps, people will feel that this sound is as antiquated as maritime shipping news or a lighthouse's lantern.
This flipping between 'past, present and future' is something that was not only talked about in the show notes, but is a timely theme in fashion overall. Here, Anderson went back to the future at Loewe like never before. There was an outré hispanic look with a shawl, a running blanket stitch, some incredible patch-worked fabrics - and smocking to boot. Tapping into the historical, but from an authentically creative place, the avant garde rolled into the rural. Blacksmith style aprons were slung around the back of skirts, whilst sunflower yellow shone. There was some seriously sculptural jewellery that reminded one of a new take on the bucolic warrior from last season; calla lily anklets looked like little cow bells.
A couple of all black looks, with handkerchief hems, evoked images of Catalonian gypsies wearing Yohji Yamamoto. They very much helped punctuate the collection – and also lent a counter-industrial edge. For all of its rustic opulence, the collection never felt cluttered. The show notes talked about the aim to achieve 'a level of craft so optimised, that it appeared to vanish.'