We’re not quite sure what a bar of soap, an egg, birthday candles and red nail varnish have in common, but opening Loewe’s SS22 collection today, an old TV showed a video montage of, well, that. And a car racing through a bright city, water flushing down a sink and a skunk running down a wall. It was “neurotic, psychedelic, completely hysterical,” according to creative director Jonathan Anderson.
With guests sitting in a square lining a room painted in healing off-white, the show opened like a meditative experience: calm, quiet, holistic. Inspiration came from the influence of Renaissance painter Pontormo, who Anderson looked to this season. The 16th-century painter is known for his ambiguous perspectives, with figures often floating around otherworldly environments, weeping and dramatically holding one another. Sharper to the naked eye, though, is the artist’s colour palette – vibrant greens, pinks and oranges – and the draped robes and sculpturing of his subjects.
Disturbing the clean lines of Loewe’s past, Anderson twisted and contorted the body. In a dramatic opening, as the first model walked, literally, out of the floor (through a hidden staircase, chill out), the tone was set, a long black dress protruding in the mid-section. Unexpected and a little weird, it was soon followed by more lumps and bumps coming out of the hips, shoulders and legs.
Anderson integrated metal plates into coats and dresses, like a grey jersey dress with a great big spike poking out of it, to mesmeric effect. It was deeply unsexy – uncomfortable, even. But it seemed for SS22, Anderson was designing for a whole new dimension. Shapes became more sculptural as the looks progressed: leggings with holes cut in the knee, wing-like capes attached to the shoulder and gold torsos cast in resin. Never mind reduction – silhouettes took a life of their own, finding meaning outside of the body.
The draped matter of Pontormo’s paintings presented itself in spaghetti-strapped slip dresses and mint green fabric wrapped around as a mini skirt with bits trailing behind. There were even two head scarves draped around the head of two models walking behind one another in unison, taking the fallen folds of the artist’s religious gowns painted in the 1500s. By the last few looks, draping took its form in bits of multicoloured fabric placed together, Grecian in its final effect as it clung to parts of the body.
For all of Anderson’s maximal effort – huge trousers, sequin dresses, teddy bear fabric, oversized parkas and fashion-as-architecture – this collection felt oddly serene. The light music playing in the background became a mantra for the models gliding down the white flooring. On closer inspection, the pumps and sandals had ready-made heels: a bar of soap, an egg, birthday candles and red nail varnish, as was referenced at the beginning of the show. It seems there was method in the “neurotic, psychedelic, completely hysterical” madness afterwall.