June 25, 2008
The press notes opened with a quote from Charlie Chaplin about the randomness of the way the Little Tramp, the character that made him his millions, came together. Paul Helbers, studio director for Louis Vuitton's menswear, invoked Charlie as a guiding spirit for this new collection. And Tindersticks mixed up a special soundtrack of their songs and the music for Chaplin's City Lights. As random as the inspiration seemed, it was clearly significant. Could it produce sparks? Well, in a word, no. "Less formal more fragile," was Helbers' intent. That translated as an icily pale color palette (a handful of charcoals and pinks excepted), lots of shorts (bare legs can look fragile on the right model), delicate fabrics like voile, and details such as "couture gathering," which pleated the back of shirts into poetically blouse-y volumes. In such a subdued context, the knitwear and accessories loomed spectacularly (this collection always excels at shoes, and Spring 2009 welcomes the apotheosis of the espadrille). And, given the inspiration that Vuitton famously offers others, there will surely be a lot of Banana Republicans who will be keen to absorb the proposals of Helbers and his team.