And it set the table for a whopper of a Loewe show, Anderson’s other major design role. You may recall that last year, Anderson took a hard left turn away from the Spanish leather house’s handmade roots into inflated surrealism. After JWA, this collection further tore menswear down to the studs. It was a literal exploration of the DNA of style, a study of silhouette, material, and attitude. The audience, among them Timothée Chalamet, stirred when a model emerged wearing a coat hammered out of a copper plate: a sculpture of a trench fluttering open just-so, the wearer smoothly on the move. The piece, the show-stoppingest runway look of the season, took some 40 days to complete. “I think menswear can be such an exciting platform, as a method of being able to trial things,” Anderson said in a post-show gaggle. There’s more aesthetic ground to capture in men’s, he noted, and it’s also a smaller business—and the lower commercial expectations allow for more room to get weird. “I feel like I’m in this moment where I want to push the envelope in different materialities, or in the actual silhouette itself,” he added.
Anderson kept pushing with a few rippling shirts and tees made of stiff vellum, or parchment, and huge overcoats molded into swooping shapes using traditional hatmaking techniques, ancient trades brought into modernity. “I like this idea that it’s frozen in time,” Anderson said of the vellum pieces. “It’s nearly as if you were to throw a t-shirt into -40 [degree weather].” More coats—there were a lot of coats, and even more boy shorts—were cut without buttons, held in place by the models’ cocked hands in a gesture reminiscent of classic portraiture. (Anderson is an art obsessive and collaborated with the painter Julien Nguyen on set design.) Other models wore long johns or simple jumpers with cherubic wings sprouting from their backs. Big roughed-out suede coats and suits, the only obvious link to Loewe’s artisanal identity, were the pieces you could most imagine walking into a Loewe store and actually buying, but remained on theme. “I’m obsessed by this idea of the total leather look, that it causes you to have an attitude—that the material is telling you what to do,” Anderson said.
Anderson has clearly been thinking a lot about why he makes clothing, and men’s relationship to it, and whether his luxury projects ought to fit into the universal act of getting dressed every morning. Which raises the question: how does this show have anything to do with what clothes I should buy next season? Anderson has decided that he’s not all that interested in answering that one. “If I showed you t-shirts, you would hate it. Or you might love it,” he said. He wants you to ask something deeper about the stuff we’re looking at on the runways. “I hope that we are going into a period where it is about being uncomfortable in design, that we are trying to find something new,” he continued. “Because if we do that, then we might kind of enjoy clothing. Do you know what I mean? Not the brand, but the clothing.”
Anderson has a way of setting trends, and I hope one lesson from these two shows breaks through: that men’s fashion needs fewer trends, and more ideas.