Kim Jones was named for a Rudyard Kipling character, the Irish orphan alone in late-19th-century India. Jones is a real traveling man, so it's surprising that it has taken him all this time to actually get to India. It was the late Louise Wilson, his professor at Central Saint Martins, who persuaded him to make the trip. He dedicated his latest collection for Louis Vuitton to her.
Inevitably, a fundamental synchronicity emerged. The maharajas of Jodhpur and Jaipur were big Vuitton customers in the twenties. The timeless luxury of their palaces was an inspiration to Jones and his team. The palace guards were the starting point for the collection's variations on military garb, like an army shirt and shorts in a lustrous suede, and jumpsuits in khaki and pink, "the navy blue of India," according to style oracle Diana Vreeland. Shisha mirror-work beautifully decorated a flight suit and military bombers, every single mirror engraved with the LV logo. It was this kind of detail that testified to the designer's all-seeing eye. There were plenty more. How often do you find yourself possessed by belt buckles or buttons? It was hard not to be when they were as immaculately realized as they were here. Jones had to produce the cotton-silk Airtex lining of his jackets artisanally, because mass production has destroyed any other options.
But that is really the kind of story that Louis Vuitton is always trying to tell: a connoisseur's appreciation of the rare, the precious, honed by exposure to the best of everything. Jones obsesses over fabric research. Everything, from the organza shirts to the water-resistant leather bags, testified to that. He also knows from personal experience what real travelers need. It was a shame that the audience had no idea that a couple of the cases carried in the finale opened to reveal a portable writing desk or everything a musician would require (music paper, notebooks, ink). The guitar case, on the other hand, was obvious, even if its sheepskin lining wasn't.
What people see and what they don't is always going to be an issue when a collection like this is presented in the conventional way. For example, the seventies-influenced silhouette—high-waisted trousers and longer, double-breasted jackets—polarized the audience, so the big picture obscured the many wonderful details that distinguish Jones' tenure at Vuitton. But the true connoisseur won't be distracted.