Clothes as a Backdrop for the Accessories

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

c.2014 New York Times News Service

PARIS — There is probably no better example of the ever-growing United Nations that is French fashion than the fact that one of the most anticipated shows of the week was Loewe, a Spanish brand owned by a French conglomerate unveiling its new look under the British designer Jonathan Anderson.

It gave new meaning to the concept of European Union.

In case anyone missed the point, the show was held at the headquarters of UNESCO, in an outdoor sculpture garden full of boulders and stone benches and relics from around the globe. Expectations of seeing a world of new ideas brought together in one collection were high.

And were they met?

Not entirely. It was more a world of a few ideas — oversize soft leather trousers in clarion shades of periwinkle or daffodil yellow with leather belts knotted at the waist; natural-fiber sack skirts and macramé halter dresses; T-shirt tops covered in rough-edged “leaves” of leather or suede or printed with a scene of mallards floating amid the reeds; the slice of upper stomach between the ribs and waist treated as an erogenous zone in thin knits and a suede shawl top — and a lot of handbags.

More handbags, indeed, than have been seen on many a runway thus far, from soft pyramids of suede clutches to woven picnic baskets, python totes and metal-handled shoppers patchworked with those recycled leaf appliqués.

Anderson has said his goal with Loewe is to create a wardrobe beholden to no season or easily identifiable style tribe — one with the luxury, that is to say, of shrugging off time. And in this context the approach makes a certain amount of sense, the clothes acting as a background to, or breeding ground for, the accessories.

On their own, however, while the colors were pure and the fabrics unquestionably tactile (as befits a house born as a skins specialist), the shapes were less relaxed than schlumpy. And in the end, as an argument for a new kind of cross-border fertilization, it was not entirely resolved.