There is one buzzword at Paris Fashion Week: coronavirus. Instead of the collections, the discussions tend towards furtive speculation of its spread, especially given that a good portion of the guests have made their way to the City of Lights from Milan, where an outbreak in the wider Lombardy region was recently announced. Grey skies above weight the worry with gravitas, adding somber ambience to a week that is usually a freewheeling romp through fashion’s finest.
To an outsider looking in, fashion week can seem like a frivolous exercise in vanity; all of these glamorous people jammed together in fabulous (and fabulously expensive) clothes so they can eyeball next season’s offerings. But fashion is more than meets the eye. Practically speaking, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry in the business of clothing humans. But philosophically? It’s an interpersonal communiqué on the self, a mode of identity, and a transmission of boundless ideas and fantasies. Loewe reclaimed the philosophical territory for Fall/Winter 2020. The message: optimism.
In taking familiar elements and finding newness in them, Anderson summoned a collection brimming with artistry.
Achieved by the architectural possibilities of ingenious fabric manipulation and textile development, courtesy of Japanese mills, Creative Director Jonathan Anderson turned his brilliant mind towards silhouette, and puzzled out how to add explosive shape to the body without risking unwieldy bulk. One of the clues was in the use of Victorian dress elements, where padding and puckered stitching rendered similar effects to 19th century panniers, protruding the lines of the garment out from the body.
There were roomy coats with fur and knit sleeves, tea dresses that were gathered at the front by rows of tiny buttons, and peplum sweaters decorated with a fringe of bugle beads at the neck and wrist. Fabrics cocooned and ballooned from the hips and shoulders, but waistlines were cinched. Some tabard-like dresses were embedded with ceramic plates designed by Takuro Kuwata, adding planes of smoothness to swelling silhouettes. Gwendoline Christie was at the show; she would’ve looked amazing in them. Other volumes were engineered from the shoulder, which jutted off the neckline like a nun’s cornette and were draped with fabric.
In taking familiar, even old-fashioned elements and finding newness in them, Anderson summoned a collection brimming with artistry and innovation. Fear can drive you places you’d never thought you’d go, but only if you let it. At Loewe, optimism overshadowed the worry in the room, enveloping onlookers in the fantasy of fashion and the places it can go. But only if you let it.