Inside Loewe’s ’Crafted World’: Supersized Anime Handbag, Digitized Ibiza and Treasure Hunt


A supersized Howl’s Moving Castle-inspired handbag, a digital landscape of Ibiza decorated with Picasso ceramics, and a recreation of a leather atelier are among some of the eclectic and playful themes displayed at Loewe‘s craft-focused exhibition titled “Crafted World,” which was unveiled on Thursday at the Shanghai Exhibition Centre.

Loewe's "Crafted World" exhibition at Shanghai Exhibition Centre.

The entrance to the exhibition at Shanghai Exhibition Centre.

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Billed as the Spanish house’s first major exhibition, it celebrates Loewe’s 178 years of history, the brand’s commitment to craft, its array of artist collaborations, as well as creative director Jonathan Anderson‘s first decade at the brand.

Curated by Anderson, the exhibition is divided into six thematic chapters that narrate the brand’s evolution from a leather-making collective to a fashion house and most recently, a cultural and craft-focused brand writ large.

The itinerant exhibition will be on view free of charge from Friday to May 5 before embarking on a world tour.

“When you go out to do anything with craft, I think you’re trying to be able to explain to an audience that the craft can be modern, that craft has always been moderate,” Anderson said.

The exhibition, which spans more than 17,000 square feet, was over nine months in the making and designed in collaboration with the Rotterdam-based architecture firm OMA. OMA associate Giulio Margheri said the idea was to “enclose spaces that can maintain a strong story and narrative, but at the same time show the beauty of the building, to provide context and narrative.”

To be more specific, the sunny white cubes were playfully punctuated with cutouts to reveal the building ceiling, portions of a column or a chandelier. “I think they have a very good way of explaining narrative, to have a train of thought,” Anderson said of the collaboration.

The exhibition begins with “Born From the Hand,” which highlights the evolution of the Loewe logo, advertising shots and old crafting tools unboxed from its archive. To further contextualize more than 178 years of brand history, items such as a VHS of a Pedro Almodóvar title is juxtaposed against Loewe’s signature Amazona bag; the founding of Loewe Foundation in the 1980s, which began as a poetry prize, was paired with a physical model of Gate of Europe to add more layers of meaning. Recent collaborations with Anthea Hamilton and performance looks for Rihanna and Beyoncé were also recreated for the exhibition.

A “pronunciation tunnel,” which features a catchy video of Loewe global ambassador Yang Mi saying “Lo-ev-eh,” guides the viewer to the second chapter, “Welcome to Spain.”

The ascending

The ascending “pronunciation tunnel.”

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Against a backdrop of campaign videos and the glistening Mediterranean Sea, items from the Paula’s Ibiza line are displayed with Pablo Picasso ceramic pieces from the Loewe Art Collection, among other traditional Spanish ceramics, or Lebrillo bowls.

Inside

Inside “Welcome to Spain.”

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Next up is “The Atelier,” which breaks down the creative process behind Loewe’s bestselling handbags step-by-step, including cutting, trimming, painting, assembling and 3D-printing prototyping. It culminates with a 6-foot-tall recreation of the Howl’s Moving Castle leather bag, a standout item from the Loewe x Howl’s Moving Castle collaboration in 2023.

Inside

Inside “The Atelier.”

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In the next room, “Fashion Without Limits,” Anderson revisits the signature pieces from his decade-long tenure at Loewe. Sixty-nine looks from both the menswear and womenswear collections are displayed next to works by contemporary artists that evoke Anderson’s bold and surreal silhouettes, including Haegue Yang, William Turnbull and Zizipho Poswa.

Inside

Inside “Fashion Without Limits.”

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The following thematic room, “United in Craft,” is a series of islands that offer an elevated view of works from the annual Loewe Foundation Craft Prize, Ming and Qing Dynasty ceramics that inspired the brand’s Chinese Monochrome Collection in 2023, as well as tapestries, baskets, woven textiles, chairs and chestnut roaster projects that were shown during Salone del Mobile. Loewe began participating annually in the Milan design fair in 2015.

Inside

Inside “United in Craft.”

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In “Unexpected Dialogues,” nine immersive rooms are recreated to highlight nine artist collaborations, including Ken Prince’s New Mexico studio; Japanese ceramicist Suna Fujita’s fairy-tale scenes; John Allen’s floor-to-ceiling carpet world; a jade-palette room that celebrates Loewe’s recent Lunar New Year collection; a Joe Brainard collage-filled room, and a Studio Ghibli dreamland. To spotlight artists from the 19th-century British Arts and Crafts movement, the works and styles of William Morris, William De Morgan and C.F.A. Voysey are on display in three separate rooms.

A woven carpet room by John Allen.

A woven carpet room by John Allen.

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Álvaro Leiro’s woven straw works that reinterpret the Loewe monogram mark the end of the exhibition. Limited-edition leather goods, such as colorful leather toolboxes or elephant bags with a jade piercing, are available at the finale of the show, a Loewe gift shop.

Three Loewe stores are located within walking distance of the exhibition, Including ones at Plaza 66, Kerry Center and HKRI Taikoo Hui, which are all a part of the bustling West Nanjing Road shopping area.

To get a head start on influencing Generation Alpha, Loewe also created a treasure hunt of sorts by hanging toy-sized leather goods in small corners, on the wall or on top of the ceiling. In the “United in Craft” section, three hidden artworks are waiting to be discovered by kids and adults alike.

To Anderson, showing in detail how Loewe goods are well made and educating consumers about craft as an ancient practice that continues to evolve with technological development will eventually move products to the shop floor.

“This is to be able to show the audience that we have this amazing skill that is not just about the bag. It is about the whole world around that to be able to sell the bag. You need the entire world and it needs to feel authentic,” Anderson said. “I hope that when people see the exhibition, they realize that there is an authenticity to Loewe which is very different than other brands.”

For Anderson, having the first stop of the exhibition in Shanghai was a way to pay homage to the origin of the ceramics medium, which Anderson obsessively collects.

“When I first came to China, I did a lecture at a school, where a lot of young people said they wanted to be like something in the West, but I was so confused by this because I think you have some of the most incredible design of any century, and you want to be that,” Anderson added.

With so much recent news surrounding creative personnel change, when asked about how he plans to nurture and retain talent at Loewe, Anderson earnestly responded, “I feel that you have to make the work environment collaborative. I feel like everyone has to have their own voice in it. I do not want to control people. I want people to come in with ideas. It’s about fun, it’s about the team….When people do work with you, there’s a point where they have to move on, and I think it is important to know when to move on. I would not be a good creative director if people weren’t good enough to go on to other things.”



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