Loewe releases new coffee table book for 2017: Past, Present, Future
Fashion

Loewe's Love for Books

Loewe's published two special books this year alone, and it's only May. We caught up with print expert, Luis Venegas, who edited the house's book on its visual history, Past, Present, Future.
Reading time 10 minutes

The Spanish brand sure loves its print. Since its rebranding by creative director Jonathan Anderson (with the help of creative consultants M/M Paris) in 2013, it has produced a total of 12 limited-edition seasonal publications, released a special book to commemorate its latest capsule collection with Paula's Ibiza just last month, and most notably, published its phonebook-sized, 600-page tome, Past, Present, Future earlier this year to showcase the essence of the house since its founding in 1846.

"It´s not a book to be precious with, it´s a hefty block of paper that´s meant to be used and engaged with, documenting the entire universe of the brand until now, indicating where it stands today and where it might go next." — Jonathan Anderson

In a phone interview, we talk to the book's editor, Luis Venegas, the authority of creating special print projects. He's editor of independent magazines Candy, Ey! Magateen and Fanzine137 which are released as limited editions, attracting a formidable list of contributors: photographers Steven Klein, Terry Richardson, Tim Walker and writer Tim Blanks are only a few. Venegas has also previously worked on Loewe's viral Oro Collection campaign in 2012.

Safe to say, he's the best person to talk to about books and Loewe aside from Jonathan Anderson. Here, he discusses the extensive process of piecing Past, Present, Future together, the emotional power of images, and what it means to be new in a world obsessed by the past. 

"The main thing is not what you say about the art, it’s the art itself. The images are the main thing." — Luis Venegas

How did Jonathan Anderson (creative director of Loewe) approach you to work on Past, Present Future and what were his expectations?

Jonathan saw the last issue of one of my magazines called Fanzine 137, which he liked very much, and decided that I was the right person for the project. I guess that it’s also because I’m a Spanish person who has known Loewe forever, even before he knew about Loewe — it’s part of our (Spanish) DNA. As for expectations, he was very clear that he just wanted me to be free and create whatever format, whatever kind of content I felt was right. He wanted to be surprised, but the final book is not so different from the mock up that I showed him. This book documents very exhaustibly the years of Loewe now, the years of Jonathan as creative director of Loewe.

 

You've mentioned that you prefer the book to be treated as an object open to interpretation. What did you mean?

We didn’t want it to be those hardcover coffee table books, we preferred it to be a huge paperback book that you can work with and use post-its to tag your favourite pages... like if I was a student of fashion and I need to add or draw something, why not? Every time I read a book and I like a particular sentence, I take a pen and I underline them and make remarks. The idea is that, but with images. Working with a book that way makes it even more personal to the person who bought it.

 

It’s a huge book with an unconventional format — there’s also no text except for the index where the photographs are taken from etc. What was your reason?

I love books and every time I look at them I always feel like… Well… I have to be honest. I, and most of the people I know, only look at the images but don’t really read the text. The main thing is not what you say about the art, it’s the art itself: the images are the main thing. Every time I publish something, I think my duty is to entertain, to inspire and to inform.

 

With this book, how do you define newness in an era where we keep re-contextualising images from the past?

It’s a book about history but it’s history done from an emotional approach, not by a chronological way. And I feel that’s really new. The fact that you have to check the index to what era it’s from, you’ll realise “oh, this looks really old, but its really new” or “this looks really new but it’s happened in 1985”.

 

How do you think the people who know very little about Loewe will receive the book, since there’s so few non-visual information?

I focused more on the aspect of inspiration and entertainment, more so than real information. We don’t have to exactly say what happens for every year because the book’s idea is a seductive one. Texts and captions are very informative, very documented, very complete and very successful — but we focused more on what Loewe has been [historically] and what Loewe is these days, visually. Besides, we’re in a time where we communicate through images, such as through Instagram.   

I found one particular section of the book so interesting: it’s a series of photographs from when the Trump Tower store was opened. So you have Donald Trump, and in the next few pages you have Hilary Clinton. The book came out around the time of the election, I was just thinking if it was something that was intended… and to what effect?

When we started working on the book in 2015, 2 years ago, Donald Trump wasn’t the presidential candidate yet, he was the Republican nominee. So we have this photo of Donald Trump and little by little it became more and more important. It then looked like he was probably going to be the president. Anyway, the first Loewe store in the United States just so happens to have been the one at Trump Tower. It just happened, that’s how it is.

 

Were there some concerns on your part about including this?

For Jonathan and I, we didn’t want it to look like a political statement but we didn’t want to take the photo out because it was an exciting part of the history — and it was just funny to put it inside of the book. It was just fact that it was at the Trump Tower and there was a party and Ivana Trump attended.

 

What about the Hilary Clinton photos?

The woman who’s in charge of the Loewe archives (Flor Fernandez) mentioned, “Oh! We also have some photos of Hillary Clinton with her Loewe from the banquet she attended in Spain.” I loved that photo immediately. And I found that including that photo in the book is perfect to combat our concerns. It’s as though we’ve established a balance: we’re just showing the facts, the history of this house and that was what we made.

 

What was another part of the book that you found entertaining?

I had a lot fun photographing all the Loewe scarves myself. Jonathan and I decided it would be great to show them in the book in a different way, so we decided they were going to be held by naked male models. My dog, Perri, was with me when were shooting, so I was like “oh, it would be fun to shoot him!” The images with him were very funny. Not to brag and say he’s such a cute dog… but people don’t know that it’s my dog and I knew they were going to like it.

"...we have this photo of Donald Trump and little by little it became more and more important. It then looked like he was probably going to be president." — Luis Venegas

You spent a year and a half editing and curating the book, so how much material from the archives did you get through?

Oh, a lot. I mean the final Loewe book was roughly 10% of all the information I had to assimilate. Loewe has plenty of different products, references, campaigns and photographs. In fact, there was enough material to make two or three books of that same size.

 

Did you ever get sick of working on such an intensive project? What was your emotional state?

Well, I don’t know. I just had a lot of fun and excitement doing it. I was very honoured, happy and flattered that Jonathan thought I was the right person to work on it, especially because he gave me the freedom. I felt like “this is the Loewe book” but I also felt like it is my view of the Loewe book. Everything has been emotional for me. The fact that I put my personal photos, the fact that I put my own dog, the fact that I selected it myself and decided myself which images are relevant and which aren’t relevant at all: everything has been really really emotional.

 

How much of yourself have you immersed in this project?

Even when I am working for a client, I like to make it as personal as possible. Even if it’s including something personal that not many people are going to know about. In this book, there are also some images that are not Loewe at all, there are images from my personal holiday. It just felt right, felt Spanish and at the end of the day, it’s also a book about Spain.

 

Do you think you’ll do another book with Loewe?

I hope so… why not! It’d be great. I don’t know if Loewe is planning to work on a new book or something, but sure, there’ll be enough material to make a new book in the future. And I know Jonathan loves books. Probably he’ll want to do some more again. I’ll be happy to do one more.

 

Loewe's Past, Present, Future is available for purchase at Casa Loewe Paragon and on loewe.com

related posts

Recommended posts for you