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Read all about it: the Loewe show has been cancelled. This is the very premise for Loewe’s Autumn/Winter 2021 Womenswear collection, which Creative Director Jonathan Anderson chose not to showcase at Paris Fashion Week this month. In an ever-appropriate gesture for the times, the news of the show’s cancellation was the show; Loewe presented their collection with a newspaper supplement distributed in international broadsheets including The Times, Le Figaro, El Mundo and the New York Times.

Opting to present the collection in print form, rather than with the help of cutting-edge digital technology (a virtual front row à la Balmain, 3D models pioneered by Hanifa), is surely not an insignificant choice. ‘Fashion is about a moment in time,’ the Loewe statement reads, ‘inherently connected to a daily newspaper, which serves as a record of the “now”’. The presentation is a clear homage to print media and mass culture; the supplement is accompanied by a preview of Danielle Steel’s latest novel, The Affair, which follows the story of a fictional fashion editor. Here, Loewe gives a nod to a nineteenth-century literary norm, which saw novels by authors from Charles Dickens to Gustave Flaubert first published in newspapers in serial form. Naming fashion as both ‘a part of culture, and, in itself, pop culture’, Anderson contrasts the transient way in which culture is consumed online through social media platforms, with the longevity bestowed upon it by existence in print media: ‘Often showcased online, or via social media, those images however can be fleeting. Conversely, there is a tangibility to a news-paper, giving the fantasy of fashion a physical presence. You grip a newspaper, you turn the pages.’

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While luxury labels typically build their appeal on exclusivity, Anderson explains in an interview with i-D that his presentation is more concerned with an elevation of the popular or ‘mass’, a concept that high fashion has long shunned. For him, this has involved swapping an appreciation of cult films for an acknowledgement of the power of news: ‘TV series are the new film...And the news is the biggest TV series of all.’

The fashion world has waited with bated breath for the pandemic-era collections – surely haute couture cannot ignore the C-word? How will their collections address These Unprecedented Times? Will they be full of Zoom-approved blouses paired with sweatpants and sliders? Loewe has an answer for you: featuring a combination of tailored suits and duvet-dress-esque garments, the collection caters to both those who have spent their lockdown getting dressed up every morning and those who are taking full advantage of work-from-home casual attire.

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Mountain View

Function over Fashion

It’s perhaps not what you’d expect from such a sober front page; an abundance of vivid greens, reds, blues, and, in particular, yellow, meet the eye. Anderson explains in a promotional video that in lockdown we’re more dependent than ever on the escapist power of colour; donning statement pieces like a yellow trench coat or blue stiletto ankle boots can be instantly uplifting. The silhouettes, too, bold and theatrical (think billowing sleeves, exaggerated shoulders, wide-leg culottes), seem incongruous with the rigid and uniform columns of the newspaper pages. It’s almost as if Anderson is suggesting that fashion, as the antidote to our ennui, can break us out of the monotony of the news cycle. Headline after headline announcing the cancellation of major events over the past twelve months have meant that now we barely bat an eyelid. But this presentation is Anderson’s plea to us not to lose hope, because though the Loewe show might be cancelled, it signals anything but the end of fashion; far from giving up, the industry is finding solutions in an age when its very purpose is called into question. Fashion is back on the front page.