paris fashion week: loewe

(images via style)

if there was a single word to describe the overarching feeling of the a/w 2013 season, i’d tend to want to say ‘hitchcock’, considering that it feels like almost half of the designers in all of the major fashion cities have chosen to base their work (in some respect, at least) on that director’s iconic films, and, moreover, his heroines. and even if that wasn’t, like, the stated inspiration for designer stuart vevers work for the spanish house of loewe, it was definitely a part of the underlying imagery.

over the past handful of seasons (see s/s 2012, a/w 2012, s/s 2013), we’ve been seeing mr. vevers rather frenetically working to bring the ready to wear line to life, with clothes that pay plenty of homage to the house’s history as a leather goods accessories purveyor, and yet, tell their own story, to complement these items, rather than overshadow them. it’s something of a dicey proposition, and one that hasn’t always flowed especially easily for loewe, though i think it’s doing so now.

anyway, although on the house’s published you tube video of the show, they explained that “(t)he city of Bilbao on the northern coast of Spain provided the initial inspiration for the collection. In the collection, graphic prints and colour blocking echo the architectural patchwork of Bilbao’s historic buildings, with voluminous coats and peel-away wrap shirts that emulate the lines of its famous postmodern landmarks such as the Guggenheim museum,” i think we can all agree that a tough, no-nonsense type of slightly mysterious girl was at play here much more than just some architecture.

with their swept-back hair forming slightly retro-leaning wind-brushed pompadours, the models stormed down the catwalk in extremely structured, architectural (alright, i will grant that it was there) pieces, with splits in the skirts to show off a bit (or more) of thigh, even as the hemlines and necklines remained, for the most part, fairly modest in the greater sense of fashion for the upcoming fall. and they were luxe, too, with their leather jackets and giant fur coats, all done up in fairly classical colours to remind us that these are timeless women, after all.

anyway, as for the critiques, suzy menkes of the iht seeming agreed with some of my points in arguing that “the designer played with the tough and the raw, the smooth and refined. There was a sexy edge to the collection, as strict leather skirts opened to show a flash of flesh and a garter belt. That seemed part of a Power Woman message, with a hint of the 1980s in bold, square tops with geometric patterns. What Loewe offers is an increasingly convincing collection that once seemed like an adjunct to the accessories but now has a life of its own.”

meanwhile, us vogue described how “‘(t)he Guggenheim is what everyone thinks of first in terms of architecture, but I was surprised to find that graphic element in the older parts of the city too,’ said Vevers, pointing to the geometric patchworking on leather sweatshirts that was echoed in small, minimalist shoulder-strap bags. Shearling was a new addition for fall, and overall the clothes had a textured hand that was on trend—while few will be able to pull off his black lambskin onesie, the extra-long cream aviator coat was a welcome proposition. In that sense, Vevers is finding new range within the scope of where the house has been, and where it’s headed.”

and, interestingly enough (to me, at least), wwd fully picked up on what i was alleging above, writing that “Stuart Vevers made full use of Loewe’s leather know-how in his collection for the Spanish house, which featured outfits made from napa stiff enough to stand up on its own. It was used in plain black on an hourglass jacket with brass rings running along the outer seam of curved sleeves, and appeared in a rubber-coated lipstick red on a sporty blouson-skirt combo that evoked a toughened-up Hitchcock heroine.”

“Vevers introduced a new handbag, the Amaya,” they continued, “made of smooth calf leather with stirrup-style brass hardware dangling from straps. There is always an ambiguous streak to Loewe’s equestrian-inspired looks, but this season the fetishistic elements were more overt: skirts split open to reveal the tops of stockings and suspender belts, and shoes with stiff brushlike trims along the back of the heels. Despite the more fluid elements, like silk blouses with blue-and-white ceramic-inspired prints, this lineup felt overly conceptual.”

“I wanted a character with some depth, so spent a while taking stills from my favourite scenes in her oeuvre, and this femme fatale emerged,” elle quoted the designer as explaining, adding for their part that “(t)he femme fatale didn’t just emerge, she arrived. In thigh-high ribbed stockings with a flicker of suspender peeping out from the slit in her stiff leather pencil skirt, she scintillated down the long dimly lit catwalk. Like something straight out of an Almodovar film she was mysterious in hard leather detective coats with rounded sleeves, and spindly ankle-strap heels with provocative chains running up the spine of the heel, or plumes of hair swishing behind her as she walked.”

“Vevers’ background as a handbag designer manifested itself in the pure craftwork of the leather – multiple bonded seams, embossed floral patterns, graphic patchworks of greys and teals,” they rattled on. “‘I went to Bilbao for the first time and the architecture of the city – the shadows and graphic shapes – inspired this sort of piecing together of different materials,’ he said. The colours were indeed muted but masterfully put together – midnight blues, deep teals, luxurious creams and a flash of magenta in a tan handbag. There was also a head to toe pillar-box red – an enormous fur complete with thigh high red socks. After all, what self-respecting siren would leave her wardrobe without a flash of scarlet?”

and, finally, there was uk vogue, musing that “Vevers took the architectural patchwork of Bilbao’s historic buildings and used them as graphic prints and colour blocking on coats and jackets which themselves took on a more graphic sensibility this time – stiffer and more Matrix in shape and styling. Hitchcock hair added to the severity and sharpness here. But it was loosened up too as sweatshirt shapes in waffly knits and with furry patches sprouting from them stepped out – adding a modern ease. These then progressed to bejewelled hoodies, this season’s replacement for the brilliant bomber jackets of last.”

“Shearling, and huge voluminous amounts of it for coats, made for a contrast to the slick shapes beneath and was quite the antidote to the cold climes of Paris right now. On the bag front, the house’s signature style, the Amazona, got a shearling makeover and there came the introduction of the Amaya, inspired by its already existing Flamenco bag, which formal in shape is an equestrian-inspired number with hardware decoration. It was a combination of old and new direction,” they concluded. so it was. and thus, we see loewe moving forward just a little more along the black line.

(see the full fashion show video here)

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