#SuzyPFW: Loewe and Rick Owens take new directions

Loewe bookends leather

There was art on the walls and books by our seats – a time for contemplation rather than the more familiar hyper energy of Jonathan Anderson at Loewe.

And what books they were! The classics offered for contemplation included Don Quixote by Cervantes in the original language and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

“Reading came from the idea that classicism is always there and you don’t have to run away from it,” said the designer, who continued with a comment about fashion: “Sometimes you change the colour and that makes it relevant for today.”

This Loewe collection seemed like a mirror image of the designer’s work. No longer frenzied or frenetic – although he is still doing his namesake brand as well as the Spanish Loewe, an LVMH brand.

This show seemed to be a still, reflective point and a move towards calm. Yet it continued to have its twists and turns, such as suspended strips of clothing, and bras stitched on a bodice – both sly interpretations of fashion today.

There were also – and this is crucial to Loewe – striking, imaginative and well-made handbags: as the designer explained, a leather house must be able to articulate leather.

The show opened with one of the external pair of bras, though it was irrelevant to the simple dress in miniature houndstooth check with a furry hem. Tick for the first bag, chic in its mix of smooth, plain leather with a python pattern as the strap. Then came an alternate vision of winter coats as upgraded classics. But intersected with the almost classic tailoring came the dotted twists of fabric across the visible midriff, or a leather top leading down to strips that gave it the look of a carwash.

Jonathan explained further his six months of research: “We were looking at floating architectures for sleeves, or things that sat off the body. The idea of beauty was pushing things like sleeves away, or leather being crimped.” He went on to describe the “suspended architectures of slight undulation”.

The designer’s intellectual comments did not include the simplicity of a tailored suit with pockets and trousers outlined in leather; nor a simple calf-length coat with just a glimpse of transparent lace underneath.

These are surely the pieces that will entice customers – along with the fabulous bags.

Rick Owens: voluptuous seduction

There is a general view about all kinds of artists that a retrospective exhibition puts creativity in cold storage. So what would happen to Rick Owens after his display (running at Milan’s Triennale until March 25) of sculptures and creative objects, from camel-skin stools to the vast, weird overhead sculpture that looked like nothing less than human or animal faeces?

That show also features many different outfits, male and female, from Grecian drapes to knitted “chain mail”.

But Owens had decided to use a new weapon for Autumn/Winter 2018: soft seduction. Voluminous bumps and drapes changed body shapes, leaving only bared legs to add a touch of flesh, luring the eye downwards.

The surprise was as much about its resonance with the shape and concept of Rei Kawakubo. Comme des Garçons has owned protuberance ever since the designer showed her “Lumps and Bumps” collection, to general shock and even dismay at its meaning, back in 1997.

Rick’s version, although just as lumpy, seemed quite different because the entire show was so upbeat. Perhaps his aim was to add shape to the silhouettes, or to play with fabric, which suddenly appeared as sunshine yellow checks.

Whatever the reason, the voluptuous silhouettes, combined with Marlene Dietrich, among other performers, singing a throaty “Baubles, bangles and Beads”, was a new turn for Rick Owens. But not one that felt like it had much depth.