Jonathan Anderson is off to a flying start at Loewe. There are billboards in Paris featuring his first ad campaign, which eye-catchingly curates a selection of vintage Steven Meisel images. Anderson's first men's collection has been captured for posterity by his favorite photographer, Jamie Hawkesworth, in a lush volume he intends to be the first of many. And today the designer brought the world to Loewe's spectacular new HQ opposite
Saint-Sulpice, one of the most magnificent churches in Paris, to unveil his debut in a presentation that displayed the pieces like precious artifacts.
But it was immediately obvious that there was nothing precious about Anderson's revamp of the brand. Loewe's home is Madrid, and its traditional calling card is an expensive leathery sophistication, but he rooted his collection in an altogether different Spanish inspiration. His clothes—a rough linen tee, a long raw-silk tunic, turned-up jeans, a work shirt in Japanese canvas—had the bohemian flair of the Balearics in their pre-rave heyday. There's a visual history of legendary Ibizan nightclub Pacha, which includes a photo of Roman Polanski in a cotton shirt and neon Speedo. That was the sort of image that was dancing in Anderson's mind while he was designing.
Of course, there was much more. Confronted by an archive dating back to the mid-19th century, Anderson had a clear choice: embrace or ignore. He chose the former. Like the golden tone called "oro," represented here by a suede trench and a softened-up version of Loewe's enduring It bag, Amazona. Or the solid shoes in crocodile, with the house's traditional white soles. And there was an ingenious updating of the company's leather legacy in a calfskin bag that was cleverly designed to be packed flat, and a fantastic jacket in waterproof leather. "It's hard to do that to napa without it looking plastic," Anderson said proudly.
It was also quite obvious how much of Anderson himself there was in the new Loewe. He played with Meccano blocks when he was a kid (you were either Meccano or Lego), and the Meccano references in the new collection were, he said, representative of "a naive approach to rebuilding a brand." They led to a Pop-y, primary-colored touch. And, the naive aside, there was a jolt of Andersonian ambiguity in a piece as frankly feminine as the two striped silk scarves sewn together to create a top.