I always have a slight issue with collections I easily label my favourite of the season following the show. The reason being, as a critic, it’s considerably harder to review a show that you’ve loved. For one, when you’re writing, you might find yourself lost for words (as I often am), or secondly, you can find it hard to translate your review because there’s this expectancy placed upon your reader to understand your love for it—in actual fact they may not. Thankfully, Kim Jones has given me a lot to dissect in his Spring 2017 menswear collection for Louis Vuitton.
Travel is Louis Vuitton’s identity, simply. It is a keyword at the beginning of every collection, for both Kim Jones and Nicolas Ghesquière, at womenswear. Jones produced an ode to Paris last season, in light of the tragic terrorist attacks in 2015. For Spring 2017, there were a number of destinations in mind: London, Kenya, Botswana, and Paris, again.
With the fast approaching 40th anniversary of the punk movement, Jones reflected on that era. He translated the hardness and rebellion into something elegant, soft even. How is it possible to make punk “soft”? It’s easy, in fact: Jones weaved the underlying inspiration of the collection, Africa, into it, resulting in the rubber, zips and straps that were infused with African pattern. Specifically, the punk incarnation Jones dreamt of was Botswanan biker gangs, as photographed by Frank Marshall. There’s tranquility, but he balanced it with a dosage of edge.
Africa is where Jones spent his childhood—in Kenya and Botswana. Revisiting the continent and the two nations, he wanted to express “notions of the safari and the gentleman traveller.” Gentlemanliness is a given where Louis Vuitton men’s is concerned. Attached to the garments is instant respectability. They’re immaculate, precisely tailored, and are accepted readily on their beautiful face-value. Using bleached-savannah shades (dust, sand, black, blue of the night sky), airy fabrics, Jones brings to life a different, sophisticated homage to the countries the Louis Vuitton man will visit next spring. Should he find himself in Africa, there a transparent rubber day coats emblazoned with the ‘LV’ logo, punk-inspired sandals, fantastic trousers and shorts. Utilitarian details of punk are interweaved with the African influence, synergistically working to evoke the spirit of travel.
The elegance that is present in every Vuitton collection was more deliberate in this collection. The French elegance that was a noted inspiration on the press release this season. Fabrics and Vuitton’s accessories history refer to Paris; the fabric supposedly linking it with Africa.
Menswear is probably more potent than womenswear, and has been in recent years. It intersects gender, social norms, notions of masculinity. The bigger picture is much easier to behold than it is in womenswear. Kim Jones plays on social norms and notions of masculinity. Sometimes, however, those conversations have to be put aside when a collection just looks brilliant. There is an intellectual grounding, a lot of this isn’t just stuff: it’s a well-curated amalgam of three distinct locations—can you see why I like it so much?
Images courtesy of Louis Vuitton