A sophomore endeavor in the glare of the spotlight is never easy. Think second books, second albums, second movies. To sharpen the challenge for Kim Jones, Louis Vuitton draws one hell of a spotlight. But in his second season as director of the men's studio for the brand, Jones aced it. The job agrees with him. He loves travel, which is Vuitton's lifeblood. He has a connoisseur's sensibility, again, a Vuitton signature. But Jones also has the kind of endlessly engaged, curatorial attitude to his world that can make memorably graphic
connections between people, places, and times. This collection, for example, he called "a tale of two cities," Paris and Tokyo, capitals of culture that have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship. Georges Vuitton, son of Louis himself, was inspired by Japanese floral paintings while he was developing the iconic monogram.
But Jones was also thinking about a different kind of bridge for Vuitton. He has always loved Antonio Lopez, the fashion illustrator whose visual style helped define the seventies and eighties. Lopez was, according to Jones, one of the first fashion people to ever go to Japan and use its inspiration in his work. He was also an alumnus of the High School of Art and Design in New York. So is Marc Jacobs, Vuitton's Number One. All of which is a roundabout way of getting to the point that Vuitton's latest menswear collection made the kind of connections Jones relishes. And that's even before we get to the fact that Giorgio Moroder, Mister Disco himself, introduced the show, vocoder vox and all, before pressing the button on a soundtrack of his classics.
Under a giant silver globe (for some reason, it echoed Scarface, but maybe that was just because Moroder, who scored the movie, was in the house), Jones marched a consummate collection of new international style down the catwalk. The materials alone took you on a journey: a camel coat with kangaroo fur collar, a trench with crocodile patches, a coat cut from a Vuitton travel blanket, shoes of astrakhan, and, most of all, exquisite silks that had been woven outside Tokyo in a place recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The weaving process is so agonizingly ritualized by tradition that they can produce only 20 centimeters a day. And yet here were whole suits and kimono shirts cut from the stuff. The shirts were used under jackets instead of waistcoats, "a replacement of the three-piece," said Jones. But counterpointing this traditional stuff were the most advanced techno fabrics, also from Japan. They were cut into reflective outerwear that harked back to Jones' own collections.
There was detail in the collection that made the head spin—Antonio's feather and arrow motifs were reproduced by couture ateliers (the feathers hand-painted in the company's Gaston color scheme), locks on bags were covered in tiny leather sheaths modeled on the signs of the Chinese zodiac. It's that curatorial thing again. But today it was also the genuine pleasure of an eye for detail meeting a bottomless pocket. The result was a stellar sophomore outing.