With the Eurythmics on the sound track and Annie Lennox's signature red slickback on the models, you could hardly fail to spot the sleek eighties subtext in the latest Louis Vuitton collection. Unless, of course, your head was swimming with visions of David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth, the movie that preceded Lennox by a decade and inspired her android fabulosity. Vuitton menswear designer Paul Helbers surfed this retro-futuristic wave with a collection that subtly combined tech and trad, hard and softhence the appearance of a Mitteleuropa black leather cape and fluoro-orange trainers on the same catwalk.
This play with contrast has been an evolving theme in the Vuitton men's collectiontwo seasons ago, it was about nylon and chinchilla, here it was nylon and silk velvet. The label's signature colors were reconfigured as a geometric patchwork for a nylon parka. The velvet showed up as jackets, waistcoats, andbest of allshoes that, in an ideal world, would be mandated footwear for all public officials.
After the show, Vuitton design honcho Marc Jacobs tipped his cap to Helbers, praising the collection's dégradé effects. (In one outfit, these ran spectacularly through jacket, sweater, pants, and shoes.)
But the potential genius of Vuitton's menswear is that it can also offer something as "basic" as a tan-leather-trimmed shearling to a man with money to spend and a taste for big-brand luxury.