A dialogue between the great cities of Paris and Tokyo, their mythologies and fashion languages, are at the heart of this season’s menswear collection for Louis Vuitton. Each is explored through their contemporary influence on Louis Vuitton’s Men’s Studio and Style Director, Kim Jones, working under the Artistic Direction of Marc Jacobs, all the while seen through their impression on the legendary American fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez in the seventies and eighties.
“I was looking at the impact of and on French fashion of people from the outside, particularly the idea of an American in Paris,” explains Kim Jones. “This led to thinking about the influence of Japan on France as well, that cross-fertilization that has occured from the nineteenth century onwards, the notion of “Japonisme”, something that Louis Vuitton has been part of from early in the company’s history.” In point of fact, this is something that can even be seen in the Louis Vuitton Monogram, which has a debt to Japanese graphics in its stylized Monogram flowers. “I was interested in the great impact of Japanese design in Paris in the eighties, of how modern global fashion began to unfold and its impact today,” continues Kim Jones. “I love Japan, I love Tokyo – it is a place of constant inspiration – and I saw that famous illustrator Antonio Lopez had that appreciation for the two cities, he had that global view as well.”
“Paris was a crossroads in the seventies for people coming from all over, rich and poor, it was a time when people came together and converged that he documented,” says Kim Jones. “Antonio Lopez was also one of the first Western fashion people to make strong links to Japan, who worked there and was widely exhibited there in the eighties. I particularly admire his drawings of men from these periods, his heroic vision of men, these “City Warriors”, who could come from anywhere in the world. There was a quality and taste level to what he did that embodied luxury and he clearly understood it.”
This season sees a focus on the bold, graphic line and silhouette of the clothing. From the sinuous line of the seventies, to the pumped up silhouette of the eighties, from exquisite, tailoring traditions to meticulously researched technical sportswear, all is made completely contemporary. There is a mix and match attitude to all and a notion of the Western converging with the Eastern subtly in fabric, shape, technique, silhouette, and style. In so keeping the colors are a muted palette of grey, dark blue, black, burgundy, camel and the graphic flash of reflective materials.
Paris: From Here To Eternity
The first section is a re-imagining of Paris in the mid to late seventies. Classic, elegant menswear is inflected with a subtle Japanese influence that will be explored more fully later in the collection. It is seen in such garments as the classic camel polo coat layered with a Western shirt and tie and a silk seersucker jinbei/kimono shirt, which at first appears like a waistcoat. Vicuna pajama trousers also add to a more Eastern fluid style. Teamed with a nubuck crocodile Derby shoe with metal toe detail and Epi leather traveling bag the scene is set. Nubuck crocodile will further reappear as the predominant material of a blouson and signature baseball jacket. Mix and match wool suiting, a graphic baby camel “V” sweater and waxed jackets with crocodile trim – all hand treated with bees wax no less and lined with Louis Vuitton blanket fabric – should hint at “la vie de chateau” existence. This leads to the transitional bold, graphic Louis Vuitton blanket silhouettes of the Lopez “City Warrior” and the shift from the seventies to the eighties.
Tokyo: The Chase
The “City Warrior” appears fully-fledged in this section. The silhouette of the clothing changes to the more voluminous style of the eighties and is more inflected by the military influence of technical clothing mixed with tailoring traditions. The appearance of the beret changes, as tough outerwear and protection become a preoccupation in the reflective fabric technical jackets and high-gloss black nylon bombers. The patented Louis Vuitton bag hardware makes an appearance as fastenings on the outerwear. The Derby shoe morphs into the steel toecap boot and can appear in Astrakhan.
Reflective fabrication can also appear in the knitwear and scarves – mixed with cashmere and silk – and in bags as well as in tailoring. The themes of high shine versus texture and luxury versus utility emerge and lead to an exploration of evening and club wear.
Night: I Feel Love
In the final “Nightlife” section there is a play on the traditional dinner suit with a reinforcing of the notion of East meets West. Use of the jinbei/kimono shirt becomes more pronounced and also features as a silk suit. Traditional Japanese kimono fabrics are used throughout in Western styles of tailoring. Many of them are handspun and intensely crafted silks and could be seen as the pinnacle of luxury. There is a re-enforcing of the elegant line found at the beginning of the collection, mixed with Japanese materials. The reconfiguring of the double-breasted suit is particularly important in this section, featuring as it does in the traditional indigo of the kimono fabric. Hand-cut velvet is used as inlay for the suiting at the end summing up the collection in midnight blue and black. The Derby shoe appears again here in corresponding colors in newly rubberized calf with black toecaps. Rope design silk scarves feature throughout and compact crocodile portfolio bags are clutched for evening.
The music is by the pope of disco music, Giorgio Moroder and has been newly, specially remixed set for the show by Mr. Moroder himself.
• Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2012 Menswear Collection – Fashion Show
• Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2012 Menswear Collection – Backstage
• Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2012 Menswear Collection – Celebrities
Images via Louis Vuitton / Ludwig Bonnet