If J.W. Anderson’s own collection in London was surprisingly, pleasingly straightforward, his catwalk debut at Loewe suggested why. All that wayward J.W. action had gone south, to Loewe’s headquarters in sunny Spain. Yes, sunny. Instead of the somewhat heavy, leathery Loewe those who know the brand might be familiar with, there were the Balearic lightness and sensuality that Anderson began to explore with his men’s collection for the house. At first glace, the Isamu Noguchi garden at the UNESCO building where the show was staged might have seemed the very antithesis of those notions. But step back, check the sculptural stones and benches, and you could have been in the rocky fabulosity of Formentera. And that’s where Anderson was taking us, to somewhere physical and primal. A sheath in the honey-toned suede Loewe calls “oro” was decked with random applications of hide, a 21st-century Wilma Flintstone. Right behind it, something black, bowed at the waist, with a handful of suede samples dangling from its yoke. Precision and chaos—the kind of dialogue Anderson cherishes in his work.
The primal, organic nature of the collection asserted itself in the knots of a cotton tank laid over a navy skirt with brutal diagonal slashes, or in a raw silk knit tank over huge white linen pants. There was an appealingly wayward imprecision to such pieces. But the other half of the collection was something else altogether: high-waisted leather trousers in a rainbow of colors, tied judo-style at the waist. Anderson had imagined them crisscrossing on his complex set in a pleasurable blur. He wasn’t wrong. And their leatheriness underscored just why Loewe makes such an appropriate, if peculiar, fit for Anderson. He is fascinated by skin. Here, there was a trench in oro that was simply gorgeous. Less so, the latex tees perversely printed with a game-bird graphic from the Loewe archive. But, as Anderson pointed out, that was a kind of skin, too.