Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Louis Vuitton // Fall 2018 // Menswear

Is there something about the Instagram moment that is inherently detrimental to fashion criticism? Or is it a good thing? Does it separate good journalism from bad journalism?

Those were this critic’s thought following Kim Jones’ final show at Louis Vuitton at the Palais Royal last week at Paris Fashion Week’s menswear instalment. His seven year tenure—a remarkable feat in modern fashion, where designers last up to three years before their contracts aren’t renewed—was marked by a final procession that counted Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, the eminent nineties supermodels, in monogram-clad trenches. Ms. Campbell walked first to a symphony of applause, followed by Ms. Moss. They emerged with Mr. Jones at the end, accompanying him for his last bow. The subsequent reportage was centred around how he sought the two women for to commemorate the occasion, rather than the clothing which were a career-best.

Mr. Jones’ helm at the house has been underscored by his singular fusion of sportswear with the house codes, ones which link the worlds of travel and luxury. His collaboration with hype-beast brand Supreme, in 2017, was one of the fastest selling collaboration of the year and also the most widely reported. It shifted the landscape in terms of luxury, flagging questions about the integrity of luxury and luxury brands and whether they should interact with things like skate culture. His Fall 2018 show bore hints of his previous work, but it also engaged with modern masculinity.

The models wore monogrammed tights and although one could interpret them with a view to sportswear, one found them inherently feminine. Skin-tight, accentuating the models’ slim legs and underneath tented trousers, they could easily have made their way from Nicolas Ghesquière’s womenswear division at the house. 
The hallmarks of the season ahead included those brilliant biker boots which had been spotted on a number of street style stars at Paris Fashion Week soon after the show. There was a sweater reading “Peace & Love”, Mr. Jones’ outgoing propagation. He also introduced American football jerseys emblazoned with ‘Louis’—despite it hopelessly pandering to the millennial consumer, it managed to work and wouldn’t look odd on Brooklyn Beckham or Joe Jonas, both of whom sat front row.

The overall mood signified the outdoors. The outerwear was exemplary, light but durable—symbolising his dexterity as a menswear designer. There were aerial images of Kenya, where he spent much of his childhood. The safari motifs were incontrovertible, and they were intriguingly partnered with polished workwear. Similarly, he encapsulated a wintery atmosphere with thick scarves but offset this against sleeveless sweater, revealing sinewy, tanned arms. The pairing off—sportswear and streetwear, athleisure and the normalcy of gym clothing, casual wear and workwear—was oftentimes questionable but as individual pieces they succeeded with aplomb.

And by the end of it, after having posted the photographs of the former artistic director flanked by the two supermodels, the next line of questioning led people to the ‘all-important’: “Was Naomi and Kate’s presence indicative of a shift to womenswear design? Will Kim Jones succeed Christopher Bailey at Burberry? Or will he be shipped to Versace in Milan, to assume the reins from Donatella Versace?” Throughout all of this there was absolutely no mention of the clothes. An awful shame. 

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