Vienna’s Wiener Werkstätte in the early 20th century attracted a community of artists including Franz Kafka and Egon Schiele with their own creative way of mixing business and leisure style. For Louis Vuitton’s Fall-Winter 2010-2011 collection, Men’s Studio Director Paul Helbers, under the Artistic Direction of Marc Jacobs, is inspired by this “Bleisure” lifestyle, a mix of formality and comfort inspired by Vienna’s “artist wardrobe”.
“Kafka and Schiele favored very tailored, waisted clothes with short jackets and long coats,” says Helbers. “This collection is built on layering, but it is a precise interlocking. Each piece belongs to the whole and you can add or subtract to be more casual or representational. Fabrics are bonded to do without linings and coats unzip at the yoke to layer under other pieces. This suits travel and that is always a focus at Louis Vuitton, but also today’s laptop workplace which has blurred the boundaries between tailoring and casual pieces.”
The artistic life and architecture of Vienna inspire a palette of graphite, brown, raven blue, clay, forest, stone, praline, horn and nude accented by neon green.
The waist is underlined in mixed blacks for double-faced wool jackets with waterproof leather insets. The 3/4 coat is revisited in shearling and cashmere knit with silk satin sleeves. Collars contain slip-out hoods that unfold from the middle so that the leather and zip detailing remains a constructivist design element. Leather is waterproofed and constructed with taped seams for the high performance Techno Anorak, or sprayed rather than dyed so that cubist seaming stands out with a contrasting white edge. Waterproof, brushed and twisted tweeds have a snowy or paint-splattered look and give a sense of volume in very light weights. Luxury is inherent in cashmere blended with chinchilla, or mink, for jackets that are soft, and slightly hairy with a padded look. Shirts are tapered, or loose in a play of stripes: mismatched, geometric or in complex engineered prints. As a tribute to the prestigious equestrian Ecole Espagnole de Vienne, soft double-breasted blazer complement straight leg pants accessorized with zipped riding boots.
Vienna artistic life and equestrian tradition also inspire a new Louis Vuitton rich and extra soft premium calfskin. The leather is fully nourished by craftsmen with oils and natural wax to allow the bags to embellish with age. Either constructed entirely of leather or paired with a water-resistant taupe or charcoal canvas, the bags are inspired by military and utilitary vintage styles with a contemporary twist. The tote is the primary source of inspiration this season with leather handles and hardware from the iconic Louis Vuitton Steamer bag. German painter Christian Schoeler has hand painted three bags with landscapes, forests and clouds, an ode to Viennese art students who roam the streets with their customized bags.
Accessories for the “Bleisure” lifestyle combine a certain rusticity with techno details and elegant design. Army boot clogs are strapped, layered and studded while sleek patent laceups feature a new metallic wedge sole. Tangled leaves and painterly brush strokes are a romantic touch on devoré velvet scarves, and ties are structured in mock moiré or striped in bias welt weaves, or wet look metallics. Eyewear combines spectacle styling with state of the art construction with narrow branches to twist around the ear and clear plastic resin over the bridge.
Viennese artist Blinky Palermo whose work in the 60s centered on architectural illusions inspired the multiple wall set. And the soundtrack mixes techno, waltz, and opera from Holger Hiller to Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and Simple Minds with citations from Kafka.
Images via Louis Vuitton / Antoine de Parceval