PFW: LOEWE F/W 2016

Loewe F/W 2016
Loewe F/W 2016

By this stage of the fall/winter fashion season, there are some trends that have become pretty obvious.

  1. You have to put something around your neck, even if it is metal and tight and awkward
  2. If your hem is symmetrical your hem is boring
  3. Apparently women are going to battle and need to cover their breasts, comic book style
  4. Dangling chains are cool
  5. Furry handbags are cool
  6. Cats

JW Anderson managed to find a way to work all those trends into his Loewe collection this morning in ways that weren’t boring, though they might leave a question or two regarding practicality. There’s a hint of what some might call space-age futurism to the collection, though if one views the collection without the cool soundtrack of this morning’s show perhaps that reference isn’t quite as obvious. What Anderson gives us, thankfully, is a truly contemporary collection, one of the few we’ve seen that has some hope of being wearable without being completely re-worked. As such, there really aren’t any prints, but creative takes on ways to utilize fabrics that are at least slightly interesting and different from the status quo.

One of the first things we notice is that layered asymmetry is the way to go in the future. Whether the swaths of fabric are broad or small, layering them along contrasting diagonal lines is more visually interesting than attempting to keep things straight, and even when lines are horizontal they shouldn’t be completely perfect. As a result, when we do see a horizontal line, such as with the large tanned leather coat, it really stands out and makes a statement.

We also can’t help noticing the gold looping neck piece that Anderson uses on frequent occasion, even though it sometimes gets in the way of the raised neckline. The visuals here are somewhat conflicting, perhaps depending on one’s personal history. On one hand, they’re very futuristic and contemporary in their styling, especially if one has as a reasonably long neck. However, for some people they can bring to mind visions of slave collars and while that certainly isn’t a reference Anderson intends to make, the rigidity of something around the neck can have negative cultural inferences.

Where this collection gets interesting is with the pseudo-chainmail styled sleeves. Visually, this is an incredibly wonderful style touch, bringing to mind a sense of fluidity on one hand, and old-world toughness on the other. The way the sleeves flow beyond the length of the hand creates a really strong visual aesthetic. The downside here is a practical one: good luck getting your arm down the sleeve of an overcoat. Fortunately, capes are also big this season and even though there are none in this collection that, or a poncho, is the best solution to this problem.

Furry and fringed handbags are strong in this collection, but be careful to note that Anderson doesn’t always put the most textured bags with the most textured garments as we’ve seen others do. He’s careful to mix and match those styles so that the fringe element doesn’t become overwhelming.  When he does go whole-fringe near the end, the effect is less overwhelming. This is very good styling advice no matter which label one is wearing.

More curious, however, are the breastplates that show up first in leather in the first ensemble and then again half-way through the collection, and then later layered in gold leaf. These seem futuristic only in reference to how female superheroes were drawn in 1950s comic books. They don’t fit well, they don’t serve any practical purpose, and they look more like a misplaced Halloween costume than haute couture. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t the first collection in which we’ve seen these strange things and it is totally lost one me how we are supposed to find them empowering or attractive.

As accessories go, we’ve seen a heavy trend this season toward draping ridiculously large things around one’s neck and while Anderson offers multiple options the one that instantly grabbed everyone’s attention were the cat heads. These are not necessarily friendly looking cats, and they are nowhere close to the Hello Kitty style that permeates certain segments of the population. These are heavy and go thunk as they hit against one’s chest while walking. This is likely a matter of personal taste and I’m sure plenty of people will enjoy them.

I should probably also mention the large looped crocheted pieces that make a couple of appearances in the collection. If one is into layering, which one often is during this season, these can make a great top layer as they’re lightweight  and their neutral tone allows them to go with most anything. By themselves, though, they look a bit drafty.

I find a lot to like in this Loewe collection, even if it does play heavily to established trends of the season. Anderson’s creative approach is strong enough that the clothes don’t feel as though he’s just adding meaningless volume. These pieces are contemporary and fresh even when they don’t always make sense. I’ll take fresh over yet another 70s rehash any day.

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