Loewe fuses high and low, tailoring and couture, to wow Paris Fashion Week

PARIS (AP) — A green labyrinthine art gallery surrounded Loewe’s luminaries on Friday where they breathed crisp air from enveloping woodland on Paris’ eastern edge, among the ancient stones of Chateau de Vincennes.

The gallery-decor walls were lined with the framed, wooded landscapes of artistic outsider and American painter Albert York, a clear statement of commonality from the brand’s one-time outsider fashion designer, Jonathan Anderson. The Northern Irish master can always be counted on twisting, bending, and reinventing the wheel in his own fashion. Little wonder Loewe is among the hottest tickets for Paris Fashion Week.

ANDERSON’S OPPOSITES ATTRACT

Inverting the notions of class and money, in a show replete with contradictions Anderson turned high to low and vice versa with aplomb. Tropes of British Isles working-class styles were inventively reimagined for the luxury runway — a humble woolen sweater vest was made of rough-textured balled reams of black wool, above baggy pants, intentionally faded evoking wornness, with dynamic, gathered swooshes in the fabric. A lowly brown rough, A-line tunic had a feel for historic garb and was elevated to high fashion by its minimalism.

Yet among all this, the most interesting part of this veritable mine of ideas was Anderson’s fusion of couture and tailoring; the highest forms of dress for women and men were intentionally muddled up, fused and confused.

Anderson transformed the traditional Etonian morning suit into a captivating hybrid dress with flappy bands dancing along the floor. Beneath a crisply tailored jacket unfolded a spectacle of billowing white printed sultan pants. They had an unexpected parachute-like effect at the back, creating a dramatic silhouette with VIP guests capturing the moment with their cameras.

Elsewhere, a men’s gray jacket was elevated to a work of art with a silver, intricately carved metal couture collar, showcasing sculptural details so exquisite they defy description. This is where Anderson truly excels, venturing into the realm of the impossible: He crafts visual poetry on the runway that is grounded in reality and wearable on the street. His designs are a testament to the rare ability to blend the imaginative with the practical, creating fashion that both inspires and is accessible.

THE OUTSIDER REIMAGINED

Guests were greeted by 18 of York’s artworks, showcasing lush landscapes and serene still lifes, not only reflecting York’s status as a beloved inspiration for Anderson but highlighting the outsider theme. Born in Detroit in 1928 and later relocating to New York, York forged a unique path. After connecting with gallerist Roy Davis in 1962, he chose to distance himself from the vibrant New York art scene, instead finding solace and inspiration in the tranquility of Southampton, where he continued to paint until his passing in 2009.

Anderson, sharing his own narrative of feeling like an “underdog,” as he once confided to The Cut in 2022, identifies with York’s journey. Citing his Irish background and the challenges of not being accepted into a top art school, Anderson saw himself on the periphery in the early years. Yet, through designs that consistently push boundaries and captivate the fashion world, he has become Paris’s celebrated figure. Much like York, who was eventually collected by Jacqueline Kennedy and revered by the elite, Anderson has transformed from an outsider to a luminary, celebrated by the glitterati and beyond.

ISSEY MIYAKE’S ARTISTIC ALCHEMY: WRAPPING MODERNITY IN TRADITION

Inside the breathtaking Art Deco interiors of the Palais de la Porte Doree, Issey Miyake ’s guests admired wall-to-wall frescos and bas-reliefs of exotic scenes lit up in dappled lighting. This symphony of light continued into show of the Japanese house, which excels in techno-fabric, casting harsh, broodingly surreal shadows on looks showcasing explorations of sculptural dressing. Pleated wrapping and swathes of layering — sometimes in eye-popping hues such as vivid blue — created a sense of envelopment and protection.

Central to this collection were two series called Envision and Wander embodying the essence of wrapping the human form in cloth, drawing from the concept of clothing as a protective and playful gesture. Sculptural forms came from the wrapping of fabric around the body to create garments with natural draping, while hand-pleated fabrics in organic silhouettes created the sense of a nomad wandering through airy, expansive designs.

Despite the innovative exploration of form and fabric, the show’s finale ventured perhaps too far into the concept of concealment, with excessively pleated looks that obscured the models’ faces and resulted in cumbersome silhouettes. This unexpected turn surprised many, as models navigated the runway encased in pleats from head to toe.

MIYAKE UNVEILS FUTURISTIC FLAGSHIP STORE IN PARIS

Fashion Week is more than just the shows; brands capitalize on the presence of the international fashion circus and hold myriad launches and openings with intentional timing.

On Friday, VIP guests sipping on champagne celebrated the opening of Issey Miyake’s new flagship store at 28 rue Francois in the luxury heartland of the 8th district. Previously occupied by the Europe 1 radio studio, the building, now housing a retail store for the first time, has been transformed with natural light streaming in through the front and rear windows.

Designed by Tokujin Yoshioka, the space has a modern aesthetic with orange aluminum walls that shine brightly, with a futuristic edge. Yoshioka said, “The historic 19th-century French architecture fused with orange, which symbolizes the sun. The space, composed of orange aluminum walls made by exquisite anodizing technique, expresses Issey Miyake’s philosophy of craftsmanship and energy for the future.”

BECKHAM: A STUDY IN STYLING, PRECISION AND COHESION

Victoria Beckham’s collection, presented at the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild, showcased a deliberate approach to styling and design, threading through various decades with consistent precision. The collection’s stark black leather coat, neatly paired with a white turtleneck, introduced a refined simplicity.

A journey through eras began with a 70s-inspired high-collared crimson silk gown, and with a loose pastel suit, that was a nod to retro elegance with modern twists. While, a foray into the 90s came with a denim total look, blending casual with chic in a way — that was retrospective and fresh.

One highlight was a black top enhanced by cascading silvery ribbons, demonstrating the former Spice Girl’s flair for integrating dynamic, fashion-forward elements. A thick ribbed turtleneck sweater emphasizing texture, and the collection’s focus on material and form. Among the more playful designs was a heart-shaped textural mini dress, showcasing the now-seasoned designer's ability to infuse whimsy without sacrificing sophistication.

Each piece, regardless of its historical inspiration, was marked by a meticulous styling that spoke to Beckham’s established aesthetic — that Paris Fashion Week is gradually revering since she presented her debut here in Oct. 2022. David Beckham supported his wife backstage (in front of reporters) in a chic turtleneck and suit.

YAMAMOTO'S BOLD SILHOUETTES

Yohji Yamamoto, the venerable Japanese designer renowned for his avant-garde approach to fashion, presented a masterclass collection in dramatic layering and architectural forms. A striking display of armor-like shoulders set the tone for a runway narrative that felt like a visual exploration of a post-apocalyptic warrior’s wardrobe. The designs, with myriad sleeves erupting from the back of garments, resembled war-torn shrapnel reimagined into a fashion statement, blending the harsh realities of conflict with the ethereal beauty of resilience.

The punk-inflected collection was emphasized through exaggerated pocket details from tunic dresses, imbuing them with a militaristic air. This was fashion as a form of rebellion, where conventional silhouettes were disrupted and reassembled into something entirely new or unexpected.

Adding to the intrigue were accessories that seemed to borrow from the ceremonial: face nets and square hats paired with angular silhouettes that transitioned seamlessly into interpretations of the Etonian morning suit. This style has captured the fashion world’s imagination this season, apparently.

Yamamoto’s ability to marry the traditional with the avant-garde was on full display, with black and white gowns that evoked the whimsy of a Pierrot doll, morphing effortlessly into skirts adorned with gathered pockets and suit jackets with elongated tails. These pieces, reminiscent of the legendary British designer Vivienne Westwood’s iconic punk-inspired creations, paid homage to a legacy of fashion rebellion while firmly establishing Yamamoto’s collection as a beacon of innovative design.

Throughout the presentation, Yamamoto’s penchant for deconstruction and reconstruction was evident, challenging the audience to reconsider their perceptions of beauty and form.

Thomas Adamson, The Associated Press