A leather-goods house taking to the runway with a ready-to-wear collection—with logos? Sounds like a high-nineties flashback, if not an anachronistic happening in days when so many other houses are scaling back or thinking better of having shows altogether. Yet here was Loewe, the Spanish leather-goods company (part of LVMH), which is design-directed by the British bag specialist Stuart Vevers, reversing its policy of sophisticated static exhibitions and deciding to use models in the standard way—swinging handbags, of course.
Subtlety and extreme quality are the key qualities of Loewe's leathers, but the act of dressing girls top to toe and having them walk in front of an audience and photographers forced an inevitable shift of focus. The luxurious craftsmanship that goes into making fine leather pieces like the black jackets and coats, with supple, fused linings visible in the folded-back lapels, isn't in question. But was it really timely to start branding a sophisticates' resource with perforated lettering declaring "Loewe Madrid" across the breast of leather poufed-sleeve T-shirts and shifts, or to emboss it boldly on a coral suede shoulder bag? Probably not.
Up till now, Loewe's artily lit static presentations have been characterful, sociable events, allowing for the close-up viewing—and even touching—of its fine-grained textures and workmanship. That encouraged the idea that this is a niche brand for grown women who consider it smart to invest in a timeless, underexposed product that deliberately sets itself apart from fashion. It wasn't that Vevers plunged the whole thing into a vat of vulgarity today, but the pressure to make statements for runway cameras (feather skirts, woven ribbon and leather pieces) inevitably blew away some of the mystique he's cultivated with his previously more personal approach.