And that set the stage for a huge Loewe show, Anderson’s other major design role. You may recall that last year Anderson took a left turn away from the Spanish leather house’s artisanal roots towards a puffed up surrealism. After JWA, this collection has once again ripped menswear to the core. It was a literal exploration of style DNA, a study of silhouette, material and attitude. Audiences, including Timothée Chalamet, were moved when a model emerged wearing a coat hammered out of copper plate: a sculpture of a trench that just opens up, the wearer moving smoothly. The piece, the most dramatic runway look of the season, took around 40 days to complete. “I think menswear can be such an exciting platform, as a method to test things out,” Anderson said in a post-show panel. There’s more aesthetic ground to capture in men, he noted, and it’s also a small business — and the lower business expectations allow more room to get weird. “I feel like I’m in this moment where I want to push the boundaries in different materialities, or in the silhouette itself,” he added.
Anderson continued to push with a few undulating stiff vellum or parchment shirts and tees, and huge overcoats molded into plunging shapes using traditional hat-making techniques, ancient crafts brought into modernity. “I like this idea that it’s frozen in time,” Anderson said of the vellum pieces. “It’s almost like throwing a t-shirt in -40 [degree weather].” More coats – there were plenty of coats, and even more boys’ shorts – were cut without buttons, held in place by the models’ outstretched hands in a gesture reminiscent of classic portraiture. (Anderson is an art enthusiast and collaborated with painter Julien Nguyen on the set design.) Other models wore long johns or simple sweaters with cherub wings sprouting from the back. Large raw suede coats and suits, the only obvious connection to Loewe’s artisanal identity, were the pieces one could most imagine walking into a Loewe store and buying, but which remained on theme. “I’m obsessed with this idea of the all-leather look, that it gets you to have an attitude — that the material tells you what to do,” Anderson said.
Anderson has clearly thought a lot about why he makes clothes and men’s relationship with them, and whether his luxury projects should fit into the universal act of getting dressed every morning. . Which begs the question: how does this show have anything to do with what clothes I should buy next season? Anderson decided he was not at all interested in answering that one. “If I showed you t-shirts, you would hate it. Or you might like it,” he said. He wants you to ask deeper questions about the stuff we watch on the catwalks. “I hope we’re entering a period where it’s about being uncomfortable with design, that we’re trying to find something new,” he continued. “Because if we do that, then we could kind of appreciate the clothes. You know what I mean? Not the brand, but the clothes.
Anderson has a way of setting trends, and I hope a lesson learned from these two shows emerges: that menswear needs fewer trends and more ideas.