Jonathan Anderson is not a man of convention. He dressed men in womenswear on the catwalk long before it became a zeitgeisty thing to do, and he recently scooped both the menswear and womenswear designer of the year at the British Fashion Awards 2015 for his own line; the first designer in history to do so.
So when Anderson set about creating Loewe’s first North American store since being appointed as creative director of the luxury Spanish house in September 2013, instead of creating an industry-standard clean white retail space he imported an 18th century stone granary building sourced from a small town on the border between Galicia and Portugal. 'I think in today’s world, and with consumerism, I feel like we have to be able to push the envelope in terms of shopping environments. My whole thing has been that stores are public spaces so it’s important they are changeable,' says Anderson. '[Stores should be] able to be peaceful environments in which they act as a kind of a social agitator.'
Anderson’s ultimate aim for Loewe, he says, is to transform the luxury house into a cultural brand. As a step towards that, before the store opens on 25 February 2016 in Miami’s Design District, it will house an art exhibition curated by Anderson in conjunction with the Loewe Foundation – perfectly timed for the well-heeled art crowd which descends on the city for Art Basel Miami Beach.
Showcasing the work of four major British artists – Anthea Hamilton, Paul Nash, Lucie Rie and Rose Wylie – the bold, contemporary works stand at odds with the traditional stone and wood structure in which they are housed. 'What attracted me to bringing these artists together was the idea of past, present future, domestic scape and how you live with art,' says Anderson. 'For me, Paul Nash’s body of photography is an incredibly important piece of work, it shows landscape in incredible context and stance.' He considers the Austrian-born British potter Lucie Rie as 'an important 21st century ceramist,' and of Rose Wiley’s giant canvases scrawled with child-like paintings, he offers, 'I feel she has this idea of now, looking through the world through a naive context which I think is incredibly important.'
Anderson fell in love with Anthea Hamilton’s mixed-media installations when a friend introduced him to the work: 'I felt like it was probably the most cutting and peaceful bodies of work I have seen in a long time. If there were one piece I’d like to take home it would be the Alabaster Legs by Hamilton. I feel like its a very new take on culture - I think it’s an incredible piece.'
Anderson concludes, 'For me luxury is not how we perceive it today. Luxury takes in the chair, the colour, the bag, the music but how it has to reflect the world today, not the world of the past.'