Highlighting its love of all things innovative, Spanish brand Loewe unveiled a limited-edition set of books during the ready-to-wear shows in Paris, each with a sleeve featuring images by American fashion photographer Steven Meisel. The books were left on every seat during the show for guests to take home, while the entire set, which is presented in a custom-designed box, went on sale last month for Dh2,000.
Since its inception in 1846, the luxury fashion house has nurtured craft as much as fashion – Loewe began as a craft collective and has always placed high value on the handwork of the artisan. Known for the quality of its materials (its high-grade leather, in particular) and for its impeccable finish (whether perfect or deliberately left undone), the brand established the Loewe Foundation in 1988, to support creativity, education and heritage in poetry, dance, craft and the arts. In 2016, creative director Jonathan Anderson set up the Loewe Craft Prize, an annual event for craftspeople across the world, while the Poetry Prize is awarded to Spanish bards.
Considering this left-field slant, it is not unexpected that the clothing and accessories label should release a box set of classic tales, with titles chosen by Anderson himself. The stories include Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.
Partly bound in a textured, neutral-toned fabric, the books are wrapped in images that Meisel originally created for magazine fashion shoots, most notably for Vogue Italia. A long-time collaborator with Loewe, the photographer has shot all its recent campaigns, including some much-lauded beauty shots for spring/summer 2018 that saw Italian model Vittoria Ceretti pose with pieces of fruit artfully superimposed over her mouth. In a nice piece of symmetry, Meisel photographed the brand's spring/summer 2017 campaign starring model and actress Amber Valletta, who incidentally appears on the cover of Madame Bovary from a campaign he shot back in 2006. He also captured British model Stella Tennant reading Don Quixote for the autumn/winter 2018 campaign.
The choice of using the work Meisel has done for Vogue Italia is telling. After all, why wouldn't he create new images for the book covers? The answer probably has to do with his famed working relationship with Vogue Italia's editor Franca Sozzani. He shot every one of her covers for more than 30 years, and it was Sozzani who pushed her protégé to be more and more daring. Sadly, she passed away in 2016, and perhaps by using these images, Loewe is paying its respects to one of the fashion industry's great thinkers.
On the surface, the images have nothing to do with the story inside each book, yet are tinged with narrative symbolism. For the book cover of Dracula, for example, model Karen Elson sits on a sofa in a setting that is at once domestic and faintly creepy. The Heart of Darkness cover features a shot from the 2010 campaign Wild is the Wind, with models dressed in rags living in a forest. For Don Quixote – whose adventures would not be complete without his trusty stead Rocinante – model Carolyn Murphy stands next to a horse wearing a disturbing plastic mask.
Throwing convention on its head, one image is printed sideways, while much like Heathcliff and Catherine's tumultous relationship, the cover image of Brontë's tale Wuthering Heights (a 2005 Meisel baroque portrait) is upside down.
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