In their 1996 publication Beautiful Necessity: Decorating with Arts & Crafts, writers Bruce Smith and Yoshiko Yamamoto describe the importance of allusion in design: “Once we have breathed life into a house, we give it a spirit, we make it our own.” The writers are referring to homes and furniture that were built in the style of the Arts & Crafts movement, an art period that flourished throughout England and America between the late 1870s and 1920. The movement emphasized the process of hand craftsmanship as important and pushed back against the cold, impersonal characteristics of industrialism by focusing on the artist’s hand in creating new pieces. It also sought to elevate hand craftsmanship as a studied form, one as favored as the fine art shown in respected institutions like the Royal Academy of Art.

For those in the movement, inspired by the philosophical writings of John Rustin and spearheaded by artist William Morris, this act of creation was held in high esteem. The finished pieces became offerings laced with care, skill, and time-honored tradition- incomparable to those produced by a machine. There was inherent respect paid to the materials used, a desire for the natural imperfections that emerged in the form, and a commitment to producing something worthy of being used by someone. The work of the Arts & Crafts movement focused on impeccable versions of items we interact with every day: tables, chairs, ceramic vases, and lamps. It also held tightly to the community, as many of the pieces were made in co-ops and workshop spaces that allowed artists to commune with one another and encouraged the exchange of information on new techniques. Though the crafts movement is not often discussed through the lens of fashion, its main themes are well embodied in luxury clothing and accessory design. This is particularly true of the European house of Loewe.

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