A creative response to crisis doesn’t just have to be practical – it can also be escapist and fanciful. Jonathan Anderson, creative director of Spanish luxury fashion house Loewe, was inspired by the idea of delight and fantasy in design. His S/S21 men’s and women’s collections abounded with voluminous shapes, exuberant adornments and artisanal techniques, such as capes cut like circles, dresses exploding with ruffles, and trousers that ballooned around the body.

The menswear offering of the Madrid-based brand, whose rich heritage is rooted in leather craftsmanship, included two leather tops, basket-woven by Galicia-based textile artist Idoia Cuesta, who had also created a series of fringed and knotted bags and vessels for the brand’s ‘Loewe Baskets’ exhibition at Milan Design Week 2019. Loewe’s annual showcase is used to highlight the brand’s commitment to craftsmanship, with previous themes including leather marquetry and blanket and tapestry making.

‘The main challenge was adapting these designs to the human body,’ explains Cuesta of the pieces, which each took up to five days to weave. Incorporating Spanish, Asian and Scandinavian influences, the leather tops look armour-like but are lightweight, and include braided knots that naturally twist around the body and punctuate the sleeves and neckline. ‘Shaping the arm holes was the hardest challenge,’ remarks Cuesta.

One Loewe piece also boasts a spiral woven strap, an exaggerated take on a bag handle straddling the body. The styles may be imaginative, but they also reflect artisanal endurance. Adds Cuesta, ‘To use the ancestral and traditional knowledge that’s behind basketry, and to be able to use them to create fashion pieces, is major and symbolic.’ §

Loewe S/S 2021 basket weave men’s top