A journey, both literal and metaphorical, is at the heart of Louis Vuitton’s Spring-Summer 2012 collection. “At its simplest level, it is about the idea of travel and what it means at this point in time,” explains Kim Jones, the Men’s Style Director, who will sign his debut collection for Louis Vuitton under the Artistic Direction of Marc Jacobs. “After all travel forms the foundation of the Vuitton brand. This is a fundamental part of the lineage and language of Louis Vuitton and is a central component of what it stands for today,” continues Jones. “At the same time, the collection is looking at the idea of a personal journey. It forms the notion of a coming-of-age through exploration and travel.”
From the Ivy League to Africa and then the decadence of a Jet Set nightlife, this “bildungsroman” is inspired by the figure of Peter Beard, the artist and long-term chronicler of East Africa and its wildlife. It was not uncommon to find this Yale graduate amongst the New York demi-monde of the seventies, in the South of France with The Rolling Stones, or on his ranch in Kenya adjacent to Karen Blixen’s. “He is a hero of mine,” says Jones of the artist. “This is a nod to him and a fictionalised imagining of that period of travel to Africa in the sixties and seventies. At the same time I grew up in Africa and it is a subject I frequently return to. It is also about how men live their lives, travel and reach maturity now with a practical view of what they want to wear.”
In so keeping, this season sees a focus on the insouciant, practical and luxurious style of a modern global traveller. It takes into account both an appreciation for traditional garments and a contemporary approach to dress and spans the divide between the two.
From the re-imagining of a preppy athleticism and a reworking of traditional notions of sportswear, such as the rowing vest with the appliqued handkerchief traditional V logo, the iconic Harrington jacket, the club ties, the luxurious knits – a cashmere spin on the traditional grey marl and the vicuna badged sweaters – or the relaxed sports jackets and suits in super lightweight wool in the first “varsity” section. To the reworking of contemporary sporting technological garments and fabrics in luxurious natural fibres, whilst still maintaining their practical performance and durability – a staple part of Louis Vuitton’s contemporary take on menswear. Here grey silks are triple bonded to keep their performance edge and breathability in the modern varsity running suit and “pacamacs”, whilst pockets are laser cut in silk windbreakers and edged with performance tape.
The “Africa” section features an exploration of the iconic Damier check, and is a recurrent motif throughout the rest of the collection. Here the Damier startlingly morphs into the traditional blue and red checks of the Masai, reworked in super fine merino wool blankets and scarves in cashmere and cotton as well as in cashmere blend sweaters and shorts. Hints of the dominant Masai theme first appear in the varsity section through the woven red and blue leather thong acces- sories that punctuate the entire collection, frequently adorned with mother of pearl inlaid beetle pendants. This section also features a more conventional take on the notion of safari clothes in olive and stone and features brushed-backed chevron cashmere knits, “Champs Elysees” quilted jackets with washed performance leathers for outwear, and luxurious two-toned desert boots and technical sandals with alligator leather accents and wooden clasps.
In the final “night life” section there is an insouciant play on the traditional dinner suit with a relaxed move from day to night in the tailoring. The tailored short suit is a key silhouette that once again makes an appearance as it does through- out the collection. Here it features as a shawl-collared self-lining silk and wool, made with precision craftsmanship. There is a notion of the heavy silk pajama suit as a replacement for more formal evening attire. Here pajama pants are also teamed with an alligator café racer jacket, each panel handpicked from wild alligator hide to avoid imperfections. The distinctive flat-pac, press-stud sandals make an appearance once more, this time in matt alligator. A reworking of the Damier check appears again in the shirting, this time with a ink-stained or watercolour feel. The classic Monogram also features as an inky, midnight silk-screened scarf and silk evening scarves predominate throughout. A 24 carat gold thread shot tie is the final insouciant say in luxury here.
Check out the full collection below or at ILVOELV’s Facebook Page.
Images via Louis Vuitton / Ludwig Bonnet